Twenty explosive-filled German warships have resurfaced after a historic drought pushed the waters of Europe’s second-longest river to its lowest levels in a century.
The sunken World War II warships, part of Nazi Germany’s Black Sea Fleet, were discovered along the Serbian stretch of the Danube River. The ships are believed to be still carrying over 10,000 pieces of explosive ordnance, many of which are unexploded, prompting fears that the debris could pose a significant danger to ships and fishermen and also endanger the local supply of drinking water.
Shipping lanes have been dramatically narrowed as a result. There is also concern that more unexploded ordnance will be found in the riverbed in the coming days and weeks.
“The German flotilla has left behind a big ecological disaster that threatens us, people of Prahovo,” Velimir Trajilovic, a local pensioner who wrote a book about the German ships, told Reuters.
The river stretches from Germany’s Black Forest and ends in the Black Sea on Romania’s eastern coast.
Large parts of Europe are currently suffering their worst droughts in over a century, with record-high temperatures being felt across the region.
The Serbian government estimates that it will cost around £30 million to remove the warships and explosives from the Danube.