Danube river shipping blocked in Bulgaria after vessel runs aground

SOFIA (Reuters) - Shipping on the river Danube was blocked in northern Bulgaria on Tuesday after a Ukrainian vessel ran aground because of low water levels, the Bulgarian maritime agency said.

Efforts were being made to remove the Ukrainian ship as 15 other vessels were being held up because of the incident, near the town of Belene, an agency official said. No information was available on what cargoes those vessels were carrying.

Bulgarian authorities said the Ukrainian vessel’s captain would be fined for not complying with a 22-decimetre depth restriction. The vessel passed with a draft of 23 decimeters, they said.

The Danube is an important transport route for petroleum products and also for east European grain exports to western Europe.

Bulgaria’s maritime agency said it was not immediately clear when the Danube would be reopened to shipping.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Alex Richardson