ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Interior announced on Monday that between June 1 to Aug .31, 2019, 56 citizens from the Kurdistan Region and Iraq had drowned in lakes and rivers in the autonomous Kurdish region.
An Interior Ministry statement noted that a majority of the drowning incidents involved tourists from central and southern parts of Iraq who had visited the Kurdistan Region during the summer holidays.
“According to data gathered, over 400 individuals died due to drowning incidents starting from 2016 until 2019,” the Ministry statement added.
It identified the primary cause of the incidents as “tourists who lack the knowledge and experience of the nature of the lakes and rivers in the Kurdistan Region,” and those who failed to recognize suitable locations for swimming, away from hazardous waters.
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Iraq’s summer heat, which can top 50 degrees Celsius during mid-day – especially in the country’s south – encourages people to travel north to cooler areas and family-friendly tourist destinations in the autonomous region.
Kurdistan’s locations stand out from the rest of Iraq for its mountainous areas and countless rivers and lakes, yet there have been several incidents of tourists drowning in waters despite warnings and instructions the KRG’s tourism board advertises.
With the number of tourists exceeding a million yearly, the KRG has, over the past few years, actively attempted to develop its tourism sector to become a source of revenue, rather than relying entirely on income generated through crude oil exports abroad.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany