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The Danube is running dry

Ivan Milutinovic / Reuters

A boat is stranded on dry land along the Danube river bank in Belgrade on Dec. 2, 2011. Record low water levels have pushed up power prices across the Balkans and may force local utilities to further boost expensive power imports to meet demand.

AP reports

"This is a disaster," said Branko Savic, the manager of a privately owned Danube shipping company in Serbia that he says is operating at only a third of its capacity. "Traffic on the Danube is practically nonexistent. . . We are in dire need of enormous amounts of water, rain, or melting snow in order to better the situation."

"In my many years of experience as a boat captain, I don't remember a drought as harsh as this one," said Anton Balasz, whose ship is among those stuck where exposed sand banks are preventing boats from passing. Read more...

Srdjan Suki / EPA

Vessels carrying more than 1,000 tons were blocked in this area of Belgrade earlier this week because the water level was lower than normal. For river traffic to resume water levels would have to rise by at least 19 inches, but meteorological services forecast no rain in the coming days.