A ferry overloaded with people celebrating the Kurdish new year sank in the Tigris river near the Iraqi city of Mosul on Thursday, killing at least 40 people, an official said, AP reported.
Col. Hussam Khalil, head of the Civil Defense in the Nineveh province, told The Associated Press the accident occurred as scores of people were out in the tourist area celebrating Nowruz, which marks the Kurdish new year and the arrival of spring.
According to local reports, as many as 170 people may have been on the boat.
Most of the people on board the vessel were women and children and could not swim, the head of Mosul's civil defence agency reportedly said.
Rescue teams are trying to reach passengers from the ferry, which was reportedly heading to a tourist island.
Authorities had reportedly warned people about rising water levels as the gates of the Mosul dam had been opened, and people are reportedly accusing the ship operator of ignoring the advice.
Images on social media show the upturned vessel and people floating in the water.
Local information account Mosul Eye has tweeted an "urgent appeal" for people to go down to the river near the Fifth Bridge and the Old Bridge in the city centre and help with the rescue.
They called on motorists to stop their cars to allow ambulances carrying victims to pass.