Venice underwater: Mayor estimates damage at hundreds of millions of euros

The mop up continues with businesses flooded across the city thanks to high tides

The mop up continues with businesses flooded across the city thanks to high tides. ANSA

The mayor of Venice is blaming climate change for flooding in the historic canal city that has reached the second-highest levels ever recorded, as another exceptional water level was experienced on Wednesday.

The worst flooding in Venice in more than 50 years prompted calls Wednesday to better protect the historic city from rising sea levels as officials calculated hundreds of millions of euros in damage.

People throughout the city have been wading through the flood waters.

The Tuesday tide peaked at 187cm (6.14 ft) at 10.50 pm local time, just shy of the all-time record 194cm set in 1966.

A top tourist attraction, the Ducal Palace, just off St. Mark's Square, tweeted that it was open "despite the exceptional tide", and advised visitors to use the raised walkways leading to its entrance. Travelers staying on the ground floor of hotels were forced to move to upper floors overnight.

The high-water mark hit 74in late on Tuesday, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. Pierpaolo Campostrini, a member of St Mark's council, stated four of these floods had now occurred throughout the previous 20 years.

"The situation is dramatic... we ask the government to help us". He went onto say "I'm not exaggerating; 80% of the city is under water, the damage is unimaginable". There was a plan to prevent this sort of flooding: The Moses project, a multi-billion-dollar flood protection system with dozens of sea barriers meant to protect the city, has been under construction since the early aughts, but it's been plagued with delays and corruption, including the 2014 arrest of the then-mayor and 30 others on embezzlement charges.

"Venice is on its knees", mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter.

Across the Adriatic Sea, heavy storm and sweeping winds also collapsed caused floods in towns in Croatia and Slovenia. He said people would leave the city because of the flooding.

"Customers already in Venice should be kept updated on advice issued by local authorities, and any that are due to travel should be contacted to discuss if any changes are necessary to their travel itineraries as a result of the flooding".

A view of the flooded St.Mark's Square during a period of seasonal high water in Venice. "We need everyone's help to get through the next few days that are putting us to the test".

Francesco Moraglia, the Patriarch of St Mark's Basilica Monsignor, also told reporters: "I have never seen something like what I saw yesterday afternoon [Tuesday] at St. Mark's square".

Tides of 140cm (55 inches) or more are known as "acqua alta" in Italian, and generally take place in winter time, according to Venice's municipality website.

Italy continues to brace itself as more bad weather is forecast. If this happens, there is a greater likelihood that these events will combine with astronomical spring tides and hence increase the chance of flooding in Venice. The publication conducted a research study with the National Research Center of Venice and found that such disastrous flooding could occur with almost every high tide in 50 years. A cyclone threatened the country and an exceptionally high tide reached the city.

St Mark's Square is particularly affected by the high tides, as it is located in one of the lowest parts of the city.

The electrical system at La Fenice theatre was deactivated after waters entered the service area, and firefighters brought under control a blaze in the Ca' Pesaro modern art gallery, caused by a short circuit.

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