The Danube has reached critically low levels along the river basin and in some places shipping has stopped. A ship ran aground in the Bulgarian waters at Svishtov...

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The Danube has reached critically low levels along the river basin and in some places shipping has stopped. A ship ran aground in the Bulgarian waters at Svishtov and has been stranded for three weeks. Its crew has been destitute. Cruise ships are blocked in Hungary, Austria and Germany because of the low water levels.

The level of the Danube across the entire shipping line is critically dipping and the forecast is to continue to fall. The tributaries in the Upper Danube are also low, for 3 months there has been no precipitation, there is no forecast for rain and the situation with each passing day gets complicated. There are 16 thresholds in the Bulgarian section.

Pavlin Tsonev, Executive Director of the Agency for Exploration and Maintenance of the Danube River: In terms of criticality low levels, the situation is similar to the one in 2003. At Rousse we already see a value of minus 11, which shows that the water levels are almost a metre below the low level of navigation. This is characteristic not only for the Bulgarian section of the river.

Navigation in the Upper Danube is blocked. A local company has ceased its excursions because of the inability of the vessels to move. And passengers will have to be compensated for the failed cruises.

Pavlin Tsonev: Last week, in Vienna, the entire passenger berth was overwhelmed by passenger ships that are staying because of the low water levels and the impossibility to cross the section from Vienna to Bratislava. Such problems also exist in the Wachau area, where the river is free-flowing.

Navigation is hindered for merchant ships too. The ship stranded at Svishtov can only be reached by boat in order to deliver supplies for the crew. Due to the low level only one of the companies in ropusse has repaired two of its ships. There is also delays in the transport of goods.