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Vienna icebreaker used for first time this winter

An ice-breaking ship was used in Vienna’s harbour for the first time this winter today (Fri).

The 36-tonne vessel, nicknamed "Kingfisher" and which has been in use for 55 years, was called in to break a 15-centimetre-thick layer of ice in the harbour this morning.

With 14 millimetres of steel protecting its hull, the 32-metre long icebreaker can cut through ice up to 60 centimetres thick and clear the harbour within two hours, according to its Captain Wolfgang Steindl.

He added that harbour water would freeze within a few days at a temperature of minus six degrees Celsius or lower.

Harbour Director Rudolf Mutz said: "As Austria’s biggest harbour on the Danube River and as one of Europe’s most-important harbours on the river, Vienna harbour must remain open to the goods brought to it by road and rail and to ships on the river."

The harbour covers 3.5 million square metres and is Austria’s largest goods-transfer centre and includes goods harbours Freudenau and Albern and oil harbour Lobau. Businesses that use the harbour deal with 12 million tonnes of goods annually.

Parts of Austria this week experienced the coldest weather so far this winter.

Temperatures plunged to minus 27.6 degrees Celsius in Lower Austria on Wednesday morning this week as the province recorded its lowest temperatures in more than 13 years.

Vienna’s Central Agency for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) added that 13 other reporting stations in Lower Austria and northern Styria had recorded lows of at least minus 20 degrees that morning - temperatures that occur on average only every third year.

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