The river Rhine in south Germany has been reopened to shipping after being closed last week after a rise in water levels following heavy rain and melting snow, German authorities said on Monday.

Rhine river shipping had been stopped around Maxau and Speyer in south Germany on Tuesday. But water levels have fallen again to levels permitting ships to operate, a spokesperson for the German inland waterways navigation agency WSA said.

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

Shipping on northern sections of the river have operated normally in the last week, despite a rise in water levels, including the important points of Duisburg, Cologne and Mannheim.

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)