The worst flood to hit Venice for more than 50 years, officials in Italy decided to declare a state of emergency Thursday after water levels in excess of 6 feet flooded the city.
Water levels reached 6.14 feet at the end of Tuesday, the second highest ever recorded in the city and only 2 1/2 inches lower than the historic flood since 1966. It was followed by another Wednesday's low tide that caused widespread flooding and power outages.
"The disaster that Venice has struck is a blow to the heart of our country," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a Facebook post. "It hurts when the city is so badly damaged, its artistic heritage is compromised, its business activities are down to its knees." that his cabinet would approve a decree later in the day to declare Venice in a state of emergency, releasing financial aid to pay for emergency expenses and reimbursement of services.
In Venice, the crypt beneath St. Mark's Basilica was only submerged for the second time in its history. Damage was also reported at the Caaro Pesaro Modern Art Gallery, where a short circuit caused a fire, and at the La Fenice Theater, where authorities cut off electricity as a precautionary measure after flooding the control room.
Italy's Minister of Culture, Dario Francescani, said no damage was reported to art collections in museums across the city, but many sites still remain closed to tourists, and La Fenice cancels concerts on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Damages throughout the city include five ferries that serve water buses that are left strewn along pedestrian paths and near bridges across city canals.
Tourists are forced to drag their suitcases through flooded areas, such as St. Mark's Square, after employees clear the pedestrian walkways to prevent them from diverting. Wooden boards that shop and hotel owners had put on doors in the past floods could not hold water.
Two deaths have been blamed for the flood on the barrier island of Pelestrina. A man in his 70s apparently was electrocuted when he tried to run a pump at his home, according to Danny Karela, an island employee with 3,500 residents. A second person was also found dead, the BBC reported.
The flood this week was caused by southerly winds that pushed a high tide, sharpened by the full moon, in a city built amid a canal system that is particularly vulnerable to any sea-lifting. the level. Venice's sea level is 4 inches higher than 50 years ago, according to the city's Tides Office.
THE VENICE FRUITS ARE SECOND-HIGH IN HISTORY AS THE TOURIST HOT HOT SPOT WITH "APOCALYPICAL DEVELOPMENT" "St. Mark's Basilica has caused serious damage to the entire city and its islands."
Brugnaro, who blamed climate change on the "dramatic situation", called for the speedy completion of a long-delayed offshore barrier project. Removable underwater barriers, called the Moses, are designed to limit flooding.
The project, which opposes conservationists concerned about damaging the delicate ecosystem of the lagoon, has delayed cost overruns and corruption scandals without seeing a launch date.
Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, told SkyTG24 that the barriers were nearly complete but it was unclear whether they would work against such a flood.
"Despite € 5 billion underwater, St. Mark's Square will certainly not be safe," Zaya said, referring to one of Venice's lowest points, which is flooded when there are floods of 80 centimeters ( 2.6 ft.)
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The Italian prime minister said Thursday that "the commitment to Venice is total" with regard to the flood barrier system.
"The situation in this unique city is dramatic," he told the Italian news agency ANSA. drawings. "
Italian Minister of Infrastructure Paola De Micheli told Radio Capital that the aim was to complete the project by the end of 2012.
"I hope it is partially used before then, "he said Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.