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Monday, November 28, 2011

War bombs cause chaos on Rhine after drought

A draught in Germany has brought water levels in the Rhine to dangerous lows, exposing ships to unexploded Second World War munitions.

Bomb disposal experts have already had to blow up an incendiary bomb near Cologne and have yet to decide how to deal with a larger bomb spotted lying in 16 inches of water near Koblenz.

River traffic was also disrupted earlier this week after a hand grenade was spotted on the banks of the Rhine near Bonn, and authorities along the course of the river have asked people to report any suspicious objects.

During the Second World War the Rhine saw intensive fighting as German troops used it as a barrier to stem the eastern advance of Allied forces.

The danger posed by the munitions has added to the woes of Rhine shipping, which is having to deal with water levels five feet below average as Germany and much of Central Europe feel the effects of one of the driest autumns on record.

At Duisburg the water level on the Rhine fell to 6.4 ft, its lowest level for 100 years, while in Bonn it fell to just 3.8ft. more