German warships from World War II found in the dried-up Danube

Falling water levels in the Danube River during the recent heatwave in Europe led experts to discover

new wreckage of about 20 Nazi-German warships deliberately sunk here in the last months of World War II.

Many of the sunken ships still containtons of unexploded ordnance. They pose a danger to fishermen, river transport and wildlife in general. The Serbian government plans to retrieve them and dispose of the wreckage.

However, as the water level continuesfall, the potentially explosive wreckage of warships poses an even greater danger than usual. Some show turrets, command bridges, broken masts and warped hulls, according to Reuters. The remaining parts are mostly hidden by sandbars.

“The German flotilla left behind a great ecological catastrophe that threatens us, the inhabitants of Prahovo,” local historian Velimir Trajilovich told Reuters.

The water level in the Danube and many other largeEuropean rivers fell over several months, during which there is an increase in temperature and a decrease in precipitation. The Serbian authorities have already begun using dredgers (floating grab cranes that dredge the riverbed) to keep the Danube open to river navigation. However, the sunken ships have reduced the width of the canal in Prahovo by 80 meters and now it is only 100 meters.

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Cover photo: German minesweepers on the river in 1939.
Image courtesy of the National Museum of the US Navy; Library of Congress; Wikimedia Commons