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PHOTOS: Poland Drought Reveals Buried 20th-Century Artifacts

After waves of searing heat that spanned the summer, drought in Poland has reached critical levels.

But recently, the dry conditions led to a revelation of historic artifacts buried in the terrain of the Vistula River near Warsaw.

According to the Associated Press, officials were aware of the settled artifacts but could not access them under the murky waters of the river and its tributaries.

A Soviet fighter plane, with human remains of the pilots, was one of the historic findings from late August. The Red Army plane was downed by the Germans in January of 1945 and plunged into the frosty river, the AP reported.

From the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, Poland was invaded by Germany and the Soviet Union. According to witnesses at the time of the crash, the plane plummeted out of the sky and fell into the frozen Vistula River.

Zdzislaw Leszczynski, head of the museum in nearby Wyszogrod where the artifacts were taken, told the AP that parts of Soviet uniforms, a parachute, a sheepskin coat collar, parts of boots, a pilot's personal TT pistol and radio equipment were found.

Russian Embassy Spokeswoman Valeria Perzhinskaya said she considers the discovery important and believes the crew could be identified by the numbers on the wreckage and could be properly buried. About 600,000 Soviet troops were killed fighting the German army on Polish territory.

Other recently discovered remnants include pieces of the Poniatowski Bridge from the early 19th century, destroyed by the Germans in 1944.

Some artifacts could be even older, the AP reported. In the mid-17th century, some of the treasures were looted by Swedish army but were buried in the Vistula when a Swedish barge carrying the loot sank.

With the ongoing drought, researchers have now been able to access the materials that have been sitting untouched for decades.

"There's barely any water there [in the river], essentially," AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys said.

Scorching summer heat has stifled the area and withheld significant precipitation. Nearby Warsaw recorded 50 percent their average rainfall from June to early September.

In August alone, only 7.62 mm (0.3 inches) was recorded compared to the normal 71.12 mm (2.8 inches).

The drought has been unfolding for several years, reaching a tipping point after a searing summer. The extended heat and aridity left the Vistula River nearly dry.

Multiple recovery operations have taken place since the initial findings, leading to additional discoveries.

Officials found Jewish tombstones, believed to originate from Brodno cemetery in Warsaw's Praga district, scattered at the bottom of the river.

The AP reported that of the initial 300,000, only 3,000 tombstones remain at the cemetery with the rest being used during and after the war for building material, including to reinforce the river banks.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Katy Galimberti at kathryn.galimberti@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @AccuKaty. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.