Europe’s drought exposes old stones, World War II ships as the water falls

Aug 20 (Reuters) – Weeks of baking drought across Europe have plunged water levels in rivers and lakes to levels few can remember, exposing long-submerged treasures – and some unwanted hazards.

In Spain, which is experiencing its worst drought in decades, archaeologists are rejoicing at the emergence of a prehistoric stone circle dubbed the “Spanish Stonehenge,” usually covered by water from a dam.

Officially known as the dolmen of Guadalperal, the stone circle is currently in full view in a corner of the Valdecanas reservoir, in the central province of Caceres, where authorities say the water level has fallen to 28% of capacity.

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It was discovered in 1926 by German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier, but the area was flooded in 1963 during a rural development project under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Since then, it has only become fully visible four times. read more

Memories of past droughts have flared up again in Germany with the reappearance of so-called “hunger stones” along the Rhine River. Many such stones have become visible in recent weeks along the banks of Germany’s largest river.

With dates and initials of people, their re-emergence is seen by some as a warning and reminder of the hardships people faced during past droughts. Dates visible on rocks at Worms, south of Frankfurt, and Rheindorf, near Leverkusen, including 1947, 1959, 2003, and 2018.

Another of Europe’s mighty rivers, the Danube, has fallen to one of its lowest levels in nearly a century due to drought, destroying the hulls of more than 20 German warships near the Serbian river port city of Prahovo during World War II. have sunk, have been exposed.

The ships were among the hundreds sunk along the Danube in 1944 by Nazi Germany’s Black Sea fleet as they retreated from advancing Soviet forces, still hampering river traffic during low water levels. read more

Italy has declared a state of emergency for the areas around the River Po, and in late July a previously sunk 450 kg (1,000 lb) bomb from World War II was discovered in the low-flowing waters of the country’s longest river.

About 3,000 people living near the northern village of Borgo Virgilio, close to the city of Mantua, were evacuated while military experts defused and carried out a controlled explosion of the US-made device earlier this month.

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Reporting by Reuters TV; Written by Alex Richardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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