Last updated: 28 February, 2013

At least five die in Baghdad restaurant boat sinking

A restaurant boat moored on the bank of Baghdad’s Tigris River sank on Thursday night during a private party with 150 people on board, leaving five people dead, Iraqi officials said.

“A boat belonging to the Lebanese Club in the Karrada area sank tonight,” an interior ministry official said, adding that the cause was not immediately clear.

Baghdad provincial council member Mohammed Jassem al-Rubaie told AFP at the upscale club where the single-deck boat was moored that 150 people were on board when the boat sank, leaving five people dead and three missing, all of them Iraqis.

Police also said that there were 150 people on the boat when it sank.

“Most of them were Iraqis; only a few were guests from Middle Eastern countries,” Rubaie said, adding that the party was for US heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar.

“I am 100 percent sure that it was just an accident,” he said.

A crowd of people, including relatives of those on the boat, gathered at the club following the sinking.

Some stood next to an ambulance crying, while others shouted that the owners of the club should be held responsible for the deaths.

Fire trucks and a number of police were also at the scene, with people approaching the police to ask about their family members’ fates.

“My husband was on the boat, and thanks be to God, he got out safely,” said Zainab, 48. “The owners are responsible for this because they let a large number of people enter the boat.”