efe-epaSaddat al-Hindiyah (Iraq)

Thousands of fish have mysteriously died en masse in farms along the Euphrates in central Iraq, leaving local breeders with an uncertain commercial future while the government scrambles to establish a cause.

Mounds of dead silvery carp buzzing with flies lined the waterways of the aquaculture ponds in the town of Saddat al-Hindiyah, located in Babylon province some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, an epa-efe photographer at the scene reported.

Iraq's health ministry has taken samples from the Euphrates – which flows from Turkey through Syria and Iraq – in a bid to discover what is causing the fish to die in such great numbers amid fears it could be caused by pollution, Iraqi media said.

The lack of potable water has become a thorny major political issue in this region of Iraq; as well as further south, in the region of Basra, where last year tens of thousands protested, in part, for access to good drinking water after a string of people were hospitalized, allegedly due to contaminated water.