The river Rhine in south Germany was re-opened to shipping on Tuesday night after being closed after a rise in water levels following heavy rain, German authorities said on Wednesday.

Rhine river shipping had been stopped around Maxau in south Germany for a week because of high water after recent heavy rain. But water levels have fallen again to levels permitting ships to operate, a spokesperson for the German inland waterways navigation agency WSA said.

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

Colder weather forecast in river catchment areas in south Germany means snow rather than rain is expected in coming days which would not immediately raise Rhine water levels again, the spokesperson said.

Shipping in central and northern sections of the river were not disrupted by high water and continued normally in the past week.

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

The Rhine has repeatedly suffered from low water levels because of unusually dry summers in recent years. (Reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by Jason Neely)