Iraqi divers retrieve bodies after boat accident

Iraqi police divers searched for bodies from the accident that one survivor said reminded him of the movie “Titanic.” Nine people were reported dead.

Hadi Mizban/Associated Press

Iraqi police divers searched for bodies from the accident that one survivor said reminded him of the movie “Titanic.” Nine people were reported dead.

BAGHDAD — Divers worked in murky waters to recover bodies from a partially sunken floating restaurant in Baghdad after an accident killed nine people attending a party for the local Caterpillar equipment distributor.

The body of one man dressed in a black jacket was pulled to the surface around midday Friday, drawing plaintive cries of ‘‘Allahu Akbar,’’ or ‘‘God is great,’’ from waiting family members on the banks of the Tigris River.


Authorities said the tragedy was an accident and that there were no signs a militant attack was to blame. Instead, investigators believe the boat may have been overloaded on Thursday evening, ahead of the start of the Muslim weekend, and became unstable as guests massed in one area for a group photo.

Ameer Ahmed was on board the boat when it started to go down and managed to swim to safety. He said the whole accident happened in a matter of minutes, and that there was a stampede as crowds tried to escape through the narrow door.

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‘‘The windows on the right side smashed inwards, flooding us with water,’’ Ahmed said. ‘‘The scene reminded me of the movie ‘Titanic.’ I was lucky because I know how to swim.’’

Those on board the boat were attending an employee appreciation event for the local distributor of the bulldozer and heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., said a manager for the dealer who attended the event.

Police and hospital officials said nine people died in the accident. Like the manager for the Caterpillar distributor, the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Associated Press

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