Officials warned that drought conditions could impact the transportation of goods such as petrol and coal, so images show water levels at dangerously low levels in one of Europe’s largest rivers.
Water levels in major European waterways have been severely affected by weeks of dry weather.
German factories and power stations that rely on shipping along the 1,232 km (766 miles) Rhine River are facing severe drought.
This waterway, one of Europe’s longest and most important, runs from the Swiss Alps to Liechtenstein, Germany and Austria. It also passes through France, France, Germany, Austria and France.
Tim Alexandrin, a spokesperson for Germany’s transport ministry said that the Rhine has a nautical bottleneck at Kaub which has low water levels, but is navigable for ships with small drafts.
According to authorities, water levels in Kaub could drop below 40 centimetres Friday and continue to fall over the weekend.
This is more than the 27cm record low in October 2018. However, it would mean that large ships would have trouble passing safely through the location mid-way down the Rhine between Mainz and Koblenz.
Christian Lorenz, a spokesperson for Germany logistics company HGK said that the situation was quite dramatic but not as dramatic as it was in 2018.
He said that ships carrying salt from Heilbronn or Cologne, which would normally carry 2,200 tonnes of cargo, can currently only transport 600 tonnes due to a lack of water.
“We hope that shipping will not be halted. But we saw in 2018 how gas stations had to stop selling fuel when the water level dropped so low that ships couldn’t pass through.
“Normally, you have more than 2m under the ship, but now you have only 40cm in some places,” Peter Claereboets, Servia’s captain, said.
“The challenge for us is to overcome those points without touching the ship, and without causing any damage.”
“Due to the low water levels, our sailing route becomes narrower and we start traveling like trains in a convoy.”
According to Mr Alexandrin, German authorities are taking steps to shift more goods traffic onto railways.
HGK and other logistics companies are now required to prepare for a new normal when low water levels will become more common.
Mr Lorenz stated that new ships ordered by his firm will be constructed with the aim of being suitable for lower water levels along the Rhine.
Images show vessels that were left exposed along riverbeds, while people can walk in areas that would otherwise be underwater.
Sky News has more:
Drought affecting nearly half of Europe
Europe’s drought is on track to be the worst in 500 years
Rivers in southern and central England to be ‘exceptionally low’