The remains of more than 20 World War II-era German warships have been exposed in the Danube River near Prahovo, Serbia, as a result of Europe’s worst drought in 500 years.
The ships — some of which still have old munitions aboard that could explode — are beginning to interfere with transit and fishing activities near the river port town in eastern Serbia, according to multiple reports.
For example, Reuters reported that some travel lanes have narrowed from around 600 feet to 330 feet due to the ships’ ruins. Serbian authorities have started to dredge parts of the river to keep shipping lanes open.
Nazi Germany’s Black Sea Fleet assembled near Prahovo in hopes of escaping the Soviet advance in September 1944. They later abandoned that option and scuttled nearly 200 ships in the process.
“The German flotilla has left behind a big ecological disaster that threatens us, people of Prahovo,” Velimir Trajilovic, a pensioner from Prahovo who wrote a book about the German ships, told Reuters.
The Danube is Europe’s second largest river and serves as a border for multiple countries, especially in the continent’s Balkans region. It stretches from the Black Forest in southwestern Germany to the Black Sea.
The river’s water levels reached one of its lowest levels in almost a century this year, including falling 5 feet in three weeks in a portion of the river near Budapest, Hungary.
Receding rivers have exposed other WWII-era relics throughout Europe.
An unexploded 1,000-pound bomb was found in Italy’s Po River last month, according to CBS News, and a 50-foot barge from 1943 was also revealed in another part of the drying river in June.
• This story is based in part on wire service reports.