Italy drought reveals sunken WW2 ships in dried up river as horror heatwave blasts Europe

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Two shipwrecks dating back to World War 2 have emerged in the River Po as a result of low water levels. This comes after a record-breaking heatwave hit the north of the Italian peninsula. The country has recorded temperatures of above 35C across June, with peaks of around 38C to 40C.

Typically, only the steel noses of the two ships can be seen from the water during the summer months.

However, the 55-metre-long Ostiglia and a second ship, the Zibello, fully resurfaced after water levels dropped to record lows.

A vehicle was also discovered in the river.

The German-owned vehicle was pushed into the water by German troops on 23 April 1945, in the final weeks of the war, to prevent it from falling into the hands of the allies.

The vehicle will be moved to a museum after restoration.

However, no attempt has been made to excavate the two shipwrecks.

The Mayor of Gualtieri, Renzo Bergamini, where the ships were discovered, told local media: “These are large structures, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to recover them.

“We would risk damaging them.”

Speaking to local outlet Reggionline, he added: “The area has value from a historical point of view.

“They feel good here”.

Explaining the history of the ships, Mr Bergamini said: “Both barges were sunk in 1944.

“They were first machine-gunned, then the American air force finished them off.”

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After restoration, the relics will be moved to a museum.

Alessio Bonin, a local amateur photographer who took a drone shot of the Ostiglia wreck, described the emergence of the vessels as “alarming”.

He told the Guardian: “In recent years you could see the bow of the ship, so we knew it was there, but to see the ship so exposed in March, when it was still winter, was very alarming.

“I’ve never seen such a drought at this time of year – our main concern used to be the flooding of our river, now we worry about it disappearing.”

At the end of June, the river Po was around 3.4 metres lower than sea level, almost half a metre higher than last year’s peak in August.

The drought is the most severe the area has seen in 70 years.

As a result, residents of cities on the Po Valley have been forced to ration water.

The drought has been exacerbated by poor snowfall last winter, which meant that water levels were already lower than usual, as the spring melt of Alpine glaciers added very little water to the river.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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