Iraqi President Barham Salih arrived in the northern city of Mosul on Friday for talks with officials over Thursday’s ferry sinking in the Tigris River that killed over 90 people.
Search teams were trying to find more bodies after the ferry, overloaded with holidaymakers celebrating both Nowruz, the Kurdish New Year, and also Mother's Day, capsized near the city with dozens on board, including families with children.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi ordered an investigation and briefly visited Mosul, where he declared three days of national mourning.
Iraqi judicial authorities ordered the arrest of nine workers operating the ferry. The men were detained and an arrest warrant is out for the owner of the tourist island where it was headed.
There was an outpouring of grief among residents who only this year resumed the annual festivities on the banks of the Tigris after the northern city's recapture from the ISIS terrorist group.
The interior ministry said 94 people had died and 55 were rescued, after its spokesman Saad Maan said at least 19 children were among the dead.
The premier said 61 women had died in the accident.
While war and terror attacks have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in Iraq in recent years, such accidents are relatively rare.
"It's a disaster, no one expected that," said a young man who had just managed to reach the shore.
"There were a lot of people on the boat, especially women and children," he told AFP.
Videos shared on social media showed a fast-flowing, bloated river and dozens of people floating in the water or trying to swim around the partly submerged boat.
Search operations stretched far downstream from the site where the boat sank, according to an AFP journalist.