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332343

Traffic along Rhine further hindered after vessel's engine failure

BERLIN, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Traffic along the river Rhine, impeded by low water levels, was hindered further on Wednesday after a vessel's engine failure closed part of the waterway, said the river police.

A vessel with a 1,660-ton load was forced to drop anchor in the waterway due to an engine failure, closing traffic between St Goar and Oberwesel. The waterway should be cleared over the course of the day, added river police.

Water levels along the Rhine are at an unusually low level for this time of year, with some vessels no longer able to sail.

However, Rhine shipping authorities expect the situation to improve in the coming days as rain is forecast for the region.

Water levels could rise "by 50 centimetres or more" by the end of the next week, the shipping authorities said, based on the forecast for the next two weeks.

Water levels at the Kaub reference point <WL-KAUB> were at 34 centimetres on Wednesday. Levels in the 30-to-35 cm range are acceptable for shipping - if expensive and with big losses in loadable cargo so as not to weigh down vessels too much.

(Reporting by Rene Wagner and Vera Eckert, Writing by Miranda Murray, Editing by Paul Carrel)

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