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CRIME

Parents make plea for missing boy as police follow new clue

Three weeks after an 11-year-old boy disappeared on his way home police say they have a new lead and have renewed their efforts to find him, while his parents appealed to whoever might have him to come forward.

Parents make plea for missing boy as police follow new clue
Photo: DPA

Police officers have been sent to a new area north of Grefrath, North Rhine-Westphalia, where Mirco went missing. Up to 1,000 officers spent two weeks combing the countryside around the small town after he disappeared on September 3.

His bike was found, and later his shirt and trousers, leading detectives to fear he may have been the victim of a crime, and that the perpetrator comes from the area.

“Please give us back our child, or tell us where we can find Mirco,” said his mother Sandra on Saturday in a televised appeal with her husband Reinhard, broadcast on WDR television.

“I know that something bad has happened to Mirco, a mother feels that… I worry about whether he is cold, hungry or is in pain, or calling for me. If the worst has happened, we have to be able to say goodbye and somehow live on.”

Speaking specifically of a perpetrator for the first time, Willy Theveßen, spokesman for the police said, “We hope that the perpetrator is affected by this and gives us an anonymous sign of where we can find Mirco.”

Witnesses say they saw a dark coloured car at the spot where Mirco’s bike was found, while on Friday police took cameras and radar vans to the area and took pictures of all the vehicles driving past.

“With much luck and coincidence perhaps the perpetrator was also photographed,” said another police spokesman.

DAPD/DPA/hc

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WEATHER

Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

A stranded cargo ship caused traffic to be halted Wednesday at the Rhine river in western Germany after suffering a technical fault, authorities said, at a time when water transport was already ailing from a drought.

Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

The vessel is stuck at St. Goar and Oberwesel, in between the cities of Mainz and Koblenz, water police said, adding that they were expecting to clear the stricken ship within the day.

The machine damage came as water levels in the Rhine had dropped to critical points at several locations, including at nearby Kaub — a known bottleneck for shipping where the river runs narrow and shallow.

The gauge at Kaub stood at 34 cm (13 inches) on Wednesday, well below the 40-cm reference point.

While vessels are still able to navigate at low water levels, they are forced to reduce their loads to avoid the risk of running aground.

About four percent of freight is transported on waterways in Germany, including on the Rhine, which originates in Switzerland and runs through several countries including France and Germany before flowing into the sea in the Netherlands.

READ ALSO: How the Rhine’s low water levels are impacting Germany

Transport on the Rhine has gained significance in recent months because among cargo moved on the river is coal, now all the more necessary as Germany seeks to wean itself off Russian gas.

Germany’s biggest companies have already warned that major disruptions to river traffic could deal another blow to an economy already beset by logistical difficulties.

The 2018 drought, which saw the benchmark depth of the Rhine in Kaub drop to 25 cm in October, shrank German GDP by 0.2 percent that year, according to Deutsche Bank Research.

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