Parts of the river Rhine in south Germany remained closed to shipping on Tuesday after heavy rain this month but falling water levels could lead to a reopening later on Tuesday, navigation authorities said.

Rhine river shipping remains stopped around the chokepoint of Maxau in south Germany, the German inland waterways navigation agency WSA said. The southern sector of the Rhine around Maxau was closed last week.

But water levels are falling and the river could reopen on Tuesday afternoon or Tuesday evening, the water level forecasting service of the Rheinland-Pfalz state government in south Germany said.

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

Shipping on northern sections of the Rhine is operating normally, including at the important points of Duisburg, Cologne and Mannheim.

The Rhine is a major 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 Mrigank Dhaniwala)