(BBC) – Along the Danube River, which snakes its way for 1,800 miles (2,898km) from the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea in Romania, scores of towns – such as the small Romanian port of Zimnicea on the Bulgarian border – depend on the waterway for their livelihood.

But this summer’s epic drought and historic high temperatures, now in a fifth gruelling month, have depleted the once-mighty Danube, upending everything that Zimnicea’s residents – port workers, farmers, the shipping industry, anglers, restaurant owners, and families – had for generations counted on to sustain themselves.

Never in living memory has the river run so low, with large areas of mud-cracked river bottom exposed along Zimnicea’s shorelines, the dead molluscs evidence of the devastating toll on riverine life.

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