Middle East

Baghdad: Tigris floating restaurant sinks

River Tigris in Iraq
Image caption The Tigris in Baghdad area has numerous riverside attractions

At least five Iraqis died when a crowded restaurant boat used for a private party sank in the Tigris river in Baghdad, officials say.

They say that at least three other people are unaccounted for.

The boat - moored in the Karrada area of the river - belonged to a Lebanese-owned restaurant.

Police also said that there were 150 people on the boat when it sank. They say there is no indication that the sinking was caused by a terrorist act.

They told the AP news agency that the boat was over its capacity and there appeared to be signs of decay on the metal joints that kept the boat attached to shore.

"Most of [those on board] were Iraqis - only a few were guests from Middle Eastern countries," Baghdad provincial council member Mohammed Jassem al-Rubaie told the AFP news agency.

He said that the party was for US heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar.

"I am 100% sure that it was just an accident," he said.

Local TV aired footage of people gathering at the entrance to the restaurant as bodies in black bags were loaded into ambulances.

The restaurant is one of several new businesses that have sprung up as Iraq's economy begins to recover from the turmoil following the US-led invasion nearly 10 years ago.