Crowded restaurant boat sinks in Baghdad; at least 8 dead

A crowded floating restaurant loaded with dozens of guests sank in the Tigris River in central Baghdad late Thursday, leaving at least eight people dead and several others missing, according to officials.

The tragedy appeared to be an accident, with police saying the boat was over its capacity when it went down. Iraqi river police and a security official said there was no indication that a terrorist act was to blame.

The vessel was part of a popular Lebanese restaurant establishment in the Iraqi capital's Karrada district. The restaurant is one of several new businesses that have sprung up as Iraq's economy has begun to improve in the years since the U.S.-led invasion nearly a decade ago.

At least eight bodies were pulled from the river, and the whereabouts of another nine people were unknown, police and hospital officials said. About 30 people were rescued initially, they said. Local TV aired footage showing people gathered at the entrance to the restaurant as bodies in black bags were loaded into ambulances.

According to police, the boat had been moored to the riverbank and there appeared to be signs of decay on the metal joints that kept it attached to shore.

It is unclear whether the facility was up to safety standards. Regulatory oversight remains weak and corruption is deeply entrenched in Iraq.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release details to the media.