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Drought in Europe threatens German industry as Rhine levels drop

The major business lobby in Germany issued a warning on Tuesday, saying firms might have to reduce or stop all output due to the difficulty in moving goods caused by the Rhine River’s falling water levels.

At Emmerich, close to the Dutch border, the Rhine’s water levels decreased by an additional four centimetres (1.6 inches) in 24 hours, reaching zero on the depth gauge.

The shipping lane itself, according to the authorities, still has a depth of close to 200 centimetres (six feet, six inches), but Tuesday morning’s record low measurement emphasises the serious water shortage brought on by months of drought that have affected most of Europe.

The supply security of industry is threatened by the protracted drought and the low water levels, according to Holger Loesch, deputy chairman of the business lobby group BDI.

A paucity of drivers and constrained rail capacity, according to Loesch, make it challenging to move freight from a river to a train or other mode of transportation.

Loesch cautioned that the impact on ships carrying coal and gasoline down the Rhine could further restrict energy supply.

He echoed worries that droughts might become more common as a result of climate change and urged the government to assist in closely monitoring water levels and taking prompt action in the event of potential transportation issues on Germany’s waterways.


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