Venice mayor blames climate change as flooding hits second-highest levels ever

Liberal Senator Gerard Rennick is questioned on Sky News

Liberal Senator Gerard Rennick is questioned on Sky News

The highest water levels in the region in more than 50 years would leave "a permanent mark", Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted.

A man walks across the flooded Riva degli Schiavoni embankment with the San Giorgio Maggiore basilica in background, after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on November 13, 2019 in Venice. The last time water filled the 1,000-year-old cathedral was in November 2018, with the cost to fix its marble floors and bronze metal doors estimated at €2.2m. The crypt was completely flooded and there are fears of structural damage to the basilica's columns.

Other images show water filling the streets, piazzas turned into lakes, and sunken vaporetti, or waterbuses that serve as Venice's public transportation system.

Venice's government announced that after the "extraordinary" tide, it would "submit a request for a state of emergency" to the country's central government.

"The damage will run into hundreds of millions of euros".

The floods have so far claimed the lives of two people on the nearby island of Pellestrina.

Venice has lived with water for its entire existence, and it's no stranger to increasingly regular flooding. But this year's deluge is particularly severe.

"Despite 5 billion euros under water, St. Mark's Square certainly wouldn't be secure", Zaia said, referring to one of Venice's lowest points, which floods when there is an inundation of 80 centimetres (31.5 inches). The only time the level has been higher was in 1966, when it reached 76 inches.

"Acqua alta has always been normal", Lorenzo Bonometto, an expert on lagoon ecology, tells the Times.

The flooding was caused by southerly winds that pushed a high tide, exacerbated a full moon, into the city.

Venice has been hit by the highest tide in more than 50 years, with the city's mayor declaring the floods the fault of climate change.

"Of course, this is an exceptional event but the problem is not unusual for Venice, and with the effects of climate change, there will be more floods".

The popular tourist destination was struck by an exceptionally high tide on Tuesday night, which peaked at 187 centimeters (73.6 inches), according to a statement by Venice's government Wednesday morning.

Most worryingly, Mr Campostrini said, three of those five episodes occurred in the last 20 years, most recently in 2018.

Of course, it's impossible to honestly talk about the floods without talking about sea level rise driven by climate change.

But the controversial project is opposed by environmentalists concerned about damaging the delicate lagoon eco-system, and also delayed by cost overruns and corruption scandals.

The luxury Hotel Gritti, a landmark of Venice which looks onto the Lagoon, was also flooded.

According to CBS News' Brit McCandless Farmer, Italian newspaper La Stampa places the project's cost at €5.5 billion euros, or approximately $6.5 billion United States dollars, and counting. Work is slated to finish in 2022.

One French couple told AFP news agency they had "effectively swum" after some of the wooden platforms placed around the city in areas prone to flooding overturned. Venice's mayor, for his part, hopes the damage will finally force Italy's politicians to act.

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