Venice‘s mayor has called for the city to be declared a disaster zone after the second highest tide ever recorded left 85 per cent of it underwater.
Two people have died in severe flooding, including one man in his 70s who was killed on the barrier island of Pellestrina when he was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump.
Francesco Moraglia, the Archbishop of Venice, said St Mark’s Basilica, which has been flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years, may suffer “irreparable” harm.
The high-water mark hit 187cm (74in) late on Tuesday. The highest level ever recorded was 194cm (76in) during infamous flooding in 1966.
The head of Italy’s transport commission vowed to send lawmakers to Venice to review the long-delayed flood protection barrier system which it is believed could have prevented the high tides.
Construction of the “Mose” system began in 2003 and was set to be completed by 2011, however it is still unfinished and is now predicted to be ready by the end of 2021.
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Good morning and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the flooding of Venice, which has been high by the second-highest levels ever recorded.
The high-water mark hit 187cm (74in) late on Tuesday, meaning more than 85 per cent of the canal city was flooded.
The highest level ever recorded was 194cm (76in) during infamous flooding in 1966.
Venice is bracing for another wave today.
Venice's mayor has blamed climate change for the city's highest tide in over 50 years
One person, a man in his 70s, died on the barrier island of Pellestrina, apparently of electrocution, Danny Carrella, an official on the island with 3,500 inhabitants told the Associated Press.
He said the situation there remained dramatic, with a meter of water still present due to broken pumps.
The fire brigade said the man was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump.
St Mark’s Square was left submerged under more than one metre (3.3ft) of water, while St Mark’s Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years.
Four of those inundations have come within the last 20 years, most recently in October 2018.
Venice's mayor, Mr Brugnaro, said the basilica suffered "grave damage" but no details were available about the state of its interior.
Its administrator said the basilica had aged 20 years in a single day when it was flooded last year.
Night-time footage showed a torrent of water whipped up by high winds raging through the city centre.
"We ask the government to help us," Mr Brugnaro tweeted. "The cost will be high. This is the result of climate change."
He said he would declare a disaster zone and ask the government to call a state of emergency, which would allow funds to be freed to address the damage.
"A high tide of 187cm is going to leave an indelible wound," Mr Brugnaro added.
A man has been filmed swimming across St Mark's Square wearing only shorts on Tuesday evening.
Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, described a scene of "apocalyptic devastation".
"Venice is on its knees.. the art, the basilica, the shops and the homes, a disaster.. The city is bracing itself for the next high tide," Mr Zaia said on TV.
The head of the Venice hotel association said the damage was enormous, with many hotels losing electricity and lacking pumps to remove water.
Tourists with ground floor rooms were had to be evacuated to higher floors as the waters rose Tuesday night, the association director Claudio Scarpa told ANSA.
Airlines are operating as normal as flooding reaches the second-highest levels ever recorded in Venice.
“We are aware of reports of flooding in Venice and our thoughts are with those affected," a spokesperson for easyJet said. "Our schedule to Venice is operating as normal today.
“Customers scheduled to travel to or from Venice who wish to discuss their booking should contact our customer service team."
The Foreign and Commonwealth office has not issued a travel warning for Venice.
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