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At least 5 die when floating restaurant sinks in Baghdad

By Mohammed Tawfeeq and Moni Basu, CNN
March 1, 2013 -- Updated 0318 GMT (1118 HKT)
The Tigris River flows through Baghdad, Iraq, and serves as a major commercial conduit.
The Tigris River flows through Baghdad, Iraq, and serves as a major commercial conduit.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The upscale restaurant opened two years ago
  • Some 150 people were in the restaurant at the time of the accident
  • Two people are missing as the Tigris River search continues

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- The Iraqi capital, long plagued by violence, was struck by a different sort of horror Thursday night when a swanky floating restaurant sank in the Tigris River.

Five bodies were recovered from the murky waters, and two others were believed missing, said Mohammed Al Rubeiy, a member of the Baghdad Provincial Council. The searched continued late into the night.

About 150 people were on the floating restaurant, Al Rubeiy said. They were attending a private party hosted by Caterpillar Inc., a manufacturer of heavy machinery and equipment. Most in attendance were Iraqis; some were from elsewhere in the Middle East.

Women wailed and men vented anger that such an accident could occur. Details about the sinking remained sketchy.

"I hold you responsible in front of all these people," yelled one man at Al Rubeiy.

Al Rubeiy said the restaurant had a maximum capacity of 100 people.

Restaurants here are usually crowded on Thursday nights, the start of the weekend.

The floating restaurant is part of the upscale Lebanese Family Club, which opened two years ago.

Bilad Qusay, who was at the party, said he knew something was wrong when patrons were asked to enter the restaurant one by one. When he stepped inside, he could see water on the floor.

Suddenly, water pressure smashed the windows of the restaurant and one side went down, Qusay said, wiping tears. He jumped to safety ashore.

The deaths came after another day of violence in and around Baghdad.

At least seven people were killed and 23 others were wounded in a car bomb and roadside blasts in the Iraqi capital's Shulaa neighborhood. In the Shurta al-Raba neighborhood, two roadside bomb exploded on a busy road, wounding eight people.

In Mahmoudiya, about 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) south of Baghdad, five roadside bombs exploded, police officials in Baghdad told CNN. At least two people were killed and five others wounded.

Iraq has endured spurts of violence over the past year amid sectarian and political unrest.

Budget protests erupt in Iraq

Al Qaeda affiliate claims responsibility for deadly attacks

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