Luigi Costantini / AP
"Venice is on its knees," says Mayor Luigi Brugnaro as the lagoon city suffers the worst floods in its history. The highest tide in 50 years brought seawater, which threatened monuments and works of art in the historic city.
According to Brugnaro, Venice is in a state of emergency, as more than 85 percent of the city is flooded. He now asks the Italian central government for help and says the damage to Venice is enormous.
The water flooded ocean walls and smashed brick docks, pushed boats into the streets and submerged parts of sights such as St. Mark's Basilica and La Fenice Opera House. While the crypt in St. Mark's Square was flooded, a board member of the Italian news agency ANSA points out that the support columns of the basilica may have been damaged by water.
Manuel Silvestri / Reuters
At least one death has been reported: "A 78-year-old man was electrocuted because of a short circuit that appears to be related to the flooding," ANSA reports in his home.
"These are the effects of climate change," said Brugnaro on Twitter when he investigated the damage on Tuesday night in Venice "In the low-lying city," said the mayor.
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Venice has often experienced the worst catastrophic flood – or acqua alta – in winter when strong winds drizzle water from the northern Adriatic. The high water mark of 1966 was also set in November.
"A long and dramatic night for Venice," the city said on its Facebook page. It added that the floods are only comparable to the tragic floods of 1966 – and the city says it's the second worst case of flooding since they started keeping official records.
"The city was built centuries ago on tiny islands and has always been flooded," reports Sylvia Poggioli from Rome. "An ambitious submarine barrier project called Moses has not been completed due to cost overruns and corruption scandals, and experts believe it will not be enough to handle rising sea levels."
Venice from her niece who attended college in the city. Part of the footage shows how water flows out of a toilet and apparently is driven back through the pipes by the floods.
Due to the high water and strong winds of a winter storm, the city has lost almost a third of the 1,100 elevated walkways it relies on to help people navigate the floods Veritas .
While the worst flooding could have happened by Wednesday, the weather office in Venice says that the tide will remain at "very high" levels in the coming days.