Low water continues to hinder Rhine and Danube shipping in Germany

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Low water levels after recent dry weather continue to prevent cargo vessels from sailing fully loaded on the Rhine and Danube rivers in Germany, the Association of German Inland Waterways Vessel Operators said on Monday.

Loads are having to be divided among vessels instead of being carried by a single craft, increasing transport costs, traders said.

But dividing up the freight means cargo is still being delivered despite the low water levels, the association said.

The Rhine has remained below normal levels since early September. Northern sections of the Rhine are around half their normal water depth.

Rain is forecast later this week in Switzerland and western Germany which could provide relief, traders said.

The Rhine is an important shipping route for commodities including grains, minerals, coal and oil products including heating oil. The Danube is a major route for east European grain exports, especially maize, to west Europe.

Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Jane Merriman