Severe drought in Europe reveals sunken WWII warships on the Danube
The scorching drought in Europe has exposed the carcasses of dozens of German warships that were submerged during World War II near the Serbian port city of Prahovo.
The ships, sunk in the Danube, were part of Nazi Germany’s Black Sea Fleet in 1944 as it retreated from advancing Soviet forces, officials said.
Ships still impact the river today, often hampering river traffic during low water, authorities said.
Today, more than 20 ships have surfaced, many of which are still loaded with ammunition and explosives. Officials say the ships pose a risk to navigation on the Danube.
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The ships limited the navigable section of the stretch near Prahova to 100 meters, significantly thinner than the 180 meters that ships previously had access to.
Serbian officials began dredging along the river to save usable shipping lanes.
We deployed almost [our] entire [dredging] capacity… We strive to maintain the waterways along their entire length,” Veljko Kovacevic, deputy minister of infrastructure and transport, told Reuters.
Growing difficulties for ship shipping will impact the country’s vital coal transportation, which accounts for two-thirds of Serbia’s power generation, officials said.
Further implicating the energy crisis, water flow in Serbia’s hydroelectric system has dropped by half in the past two months, officials told the Balkan Green Energy News.
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The country is also already experiencing the effects of the war in Ukraine on its energy supply.
Officials said the ships vary, with some now showing turrets, command bridges, broken masts and twisted hulls, while still others remain buried under sandbanks.
In March, the Serbian government contracted a private company to salvage some hulls and remove ammunition and explosives. The operation cost officials about $30 million, according to the country’s infrastructure ministry.
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“The German flotilla has left behind a great ecological disaster that threatens us, people of Prahovo,” Velimir Trajilovic, 74, a pensioner from Prahovo who has written a book about German ships, told Reuters.
The exposure of more of the sunken fleet comes after a summer of low water levels and scorching drought.
Danube levels near Prahovo are below half their average for this time of summer, experts say.
Severe drought in Europe reveals warships sunk in WWII on the Danube originally appeared on abcnews.go.com