Parts of the river Rhine in Germany were closed to shipping on Friday after heavy rain raised water levels, but the river could reopen over the weekend, navigation authorities said.

Rhine river shipping was stopped around Koblenz, the German inland waterways navigation agency WSA said.

Shipping on northern sections of the river is operating normally, despite a rise in water levels, including the important points of Duisburg, Cologne and Mannheim.

Water levels are expected to fall again and the river could reopen on Saturday, a WSA spokesperson said.

High water means vessels do not have enough space to sail under bridges and the blockage prevents vessels sailing to Switzerland.

The Rhine is a major shipping route for commodities including minerals, coal and oil products such as heating oil, grains and animal feed.

The river has repeatedly suffered from low water levels because of unusually dry summers in recent years. (Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Susan Fenton)