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Low water levels mean Rhine is days from being shut for cargo

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Germany’s Rhine, one of Europe’s key waterways, is just days away from being closed to commercial traffic because of very low levels caused by drought, authorities and industry have warned.Crucially, the impending crisis could lead energy companies to cut their output, one of the country’s biggest gas companies has said.Businesses located along the Rhine or dependent on it to transport or receive goods are warning that they have been forced to scale back activities and reduce loads drastically – and are now on the verge of having to close some production if cargo ships are no longer able to access the river.The Rhine, which runs about 760 miles from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, is the second largest river in central and western Europe after the Danube.

The majority of nearly 200 million tons of cargo shipped on German rivers – from coal to car parts, food to chemicals – is transported on the Rhine.Its dangerously low levels recall the drought that shut it down for around six months in 2018.

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