March 21 (UPI) -- A ferry carrying 150 people capsized in the Tigris river in Mosul, Iraq, on Thursday, killing nearly 100 people.
At least 19 children and 61 women were among the 94 people who died and 55 people were rescued, the BBC reported.
The boat was bound for a tourist island when it overturned because of high water levels in the river, Nineveh Mayor Abd al-Sattar Habu said. Scores of people were visiting the island to celebrate Nowruz, the start of the Kurdish new year and the arrival of spring.
Rescue teams recovered several bodies. Many of the casualties were people who can't swim, Mosul Civil Defense Authority director Hasam Khalil said. Search operations are ongoing.
The ferry was carrying more than twice the legal capacity when it tipped over, Civil Defense General Manager Brigadier Malik Bohan said.
"The Department of Water Resources warned a few days ago that the level of water will rise as a result of the opening of dams," Habu said.
Minister Adil Abdul al-Mahdi ordered an immediate investigation and demanded findings be presented to him within 24 hours.
Mahdi also issued a statement saying he had been following the story with "pain and sadness" and had ordered "all state efforts" to find survivors and treat victims.