Images show extremely low water levels along Rhine River

Images show critically low water levels on one of Europe’s biggest rivers as officials warned drought conditions could affect the transport of goods including coal and petrol.
Weeks of dry weather across Europe have drastically hit water levels on major waterways.

The drought poses a significant headache for German factories and power plants which rely on deliveries by ship along the key 1,232 km (766 mile) Rhine River.

Image: A view of a ship that has run dry at the harbour due to the low water level in the Rhine River in Lobith, Netherlands

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The waterway – one of the longest and most important rivers in Europe – runs from the Swiss Alps through Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, France and the Netherlands.

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Tim Alexandrin, a spokesman for Germany’s transport ministry, said: “This is particularly the case for the Rhine, whose nautical bottleneck at Kaub has very low water levels but which remains navigable for ships with small drafts.”

Authorities predict water levels at Kaub could dip below 40 centimetres on Friday and could continue to drop over the weekend.

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That is higher than the record low of 27cm in October 2018, but would mean many large ships would struggle to pass safely through the location – mid-way along the Rhine between Koblenz and Mainz.

Image: People stroll on the dried riverbed of the Rhine river in Germany

Image: A ferry cruises past the partially dried riverbed of the Rhine river in Bingen, Germany

Image: The Rhine is used to transport coal, petrol and chemicals through Europe
Christian Lorenz, a spokesman for Germany logistics company HGK, said: “The situation is quite dramatic, but not as dramatic yet as in 2018.”
He added that due to the lack of water, ships bringing salt from Heilbronn to Cologne that would typically carry 2,200 tonnes of cargo can only currently transport 600 tonnes.
“Of course we hope that shipping won’t be halted, but we saw in 2018 that when water levels got very low the gas stations suddenly had no more fuel because ships couldn’t get through.”
“Normally you have more than two metres under the ship but now you only have 40 centimetres in some places,” the Servia’s captain Peter Claereboets said.

Image: A view of a ship that has run dry at the harbour due to the low water level in the Rhine River in Lobith, Netherlands

Image: A view of a bicycle that re-emerged due to the low water level at a river bed of the Rhine River in Lobith, Netherlands
“And then for us the challenge is to get past those points without touching, without damaging the ship.
“Because of the low water levels, the sailing route gets narrower, and we actually start travelling like trains, in a convoy.”
German authorities have begun taking steps to shift more goods traffic on to railways, Mr Alexandrin said.
HGK and other logistics firms are having to prepare for a “new normal” when low water levels become more common.
Mr Lorenz said new ships ordered by his company will be built with a view to make them suitable for lower water levels on the Rhine.
Images show vessels stranded along sections of the river bed exposed due to the low levels of water, with people able to walk in areas that would have been underwater.
Read more from Sky News:Drought hitting nearly half of EuropeEurope’s drought on course to be worst for 500 yearsRivers to run ‘exceptionally’ low in central and southern England​​​​​

Source : Sky News