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Iraqi Boating Accident Leaves Nine People Dead After Floating Restaurant Partially Sinks

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Just a little over two weeks have passed since Carnival Cruise Line made headlines yet again for another cruise ship accident. The “Fun Ship” cruise company was criticized following a fire that erupted in the Carnival Triumph’s engine room, leading the ship to lose power and become stranded at sea. Although tug boats managed to get the Triumph back to land, the conditions those onboard had to suffer through were nothing short of appalling.

Yet, miraculously, no one was killed during the accident or the five days in which the vessel was making its way back to land – at least no one we know about yet. But even though there were no reported fatalities, maritime safety has been questioned not just for Carnival ships, but for all cruise companies, shipping companies and other maritime companies in general.

There’s no doubt that the entire maritime industry could use a safety makeover. Unfortunately, it seems as though cruise companies and other boat operators are more interested in saving money that in investing on improved safety protocols fleet wide.

If this keeps happening, there might not be anyone left with any interest in going out to sea while under someone else’s care.

But while the attention of maritime safety organizations has been placed on Carnival here in the United States, across the world, another tragic maritime accident has investigators wondering just how much the word “safety” is loosely thrown around.

Iraqi divers have been working around the clock to recover the bodies of eight victims who were killed yesterday after a floating restaurant in Baghdad partially sank in the Tigris River. The body of one man dressed in a black jacket was already recovered but investigators still have a long way to go before the case can wrap up.

Investigators believe the boat partially sank because it was overloaded. But similar to the Costa Concordia accident, in which sheer mayhem erupted after the vessel crashed into a large rock and crews began to evacuate passengers, crowds were running around trying to escape but there was no controlled emergency plan.

Ameer Ahmed was one of the passengers onboard the vessel when the Thursday night accident took place. He explained that it was a nightmare, with crowds rushing to try and escape the vessel.

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

The restaurant, which sits inside a one-story boat, was moored to the shore of the Tigris River as part of the popular Lebanese Club restaurant complex. It wasn’t the cheapest of dinner options, which has led to the question of how the vessel could have ill afforded to provide lax safety regulations onboard.

Seven bodies have been recovered by Friday afternoon, with one more believed to be trapped inside the now submerged vessel.

It hasn’t been an easy rescue mission, however. The muddy river water in the area has left divers with absolutely no visibility, forcing them to search for victims by hand.
Authorities have yet to reveal whether the boat was up to par with safety standards, but as far as regulations go in Iraq, Carnival’s lax safety protocols pale in comparison to the lack of safety regulations in the country.

Had such an accident happened in the United States, the first thing victims would have been able to do would have been to seek legal assistance. Investigators have yet to reveal a cause for the boating accident, but in the U.S., if lack of safety was a factor, boat operators may be found at least partially responsible for an accident at sea and may be liable to pay damages to victims or their loved ones.

However, much like cruise ships and cargo vessels in the U.S., Iraqi officials have spoken on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to tell the media details regarding the accident. Cruise ship companies in the U.S. have been known to keep the details of an accident to themselves in order to avoid penalties, and this incident just serves as proof that this is common practice across the maritime industry in general.

Those who had been onboard the boat had been attending an employee appreciation event for the local distributor of the bulldozer and heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. Officials have reported that nine people were killed, but no further information has been released.

Much like we are stuck here in the U.S. waiting for answers regarding the Carnival Triumph accident, those in Iraq are also waiting to hear word on what really happened.

Unfortunately, who knows if the truth over either accident will ever be revealed.

Photo Credits: Floating Restaurant Boating Accident – stamfordadvocate.com