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Venice suffers from over tourism, an aging population and sinking foundations. Then the floods came



The popular tourist destination was hit by the worst flood in 50 years this week, causing hundreds of millions of euros in damage. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said a state of emergency would be announced on Thursday.

The city in the lagoon was hit by an extremely high tide on Tuesday night, causing the worst flood since 1966. Many of its most valuable objects were damaged.

The Patriarch of St. Mark's Basilica, Monsignor Francesco Moralia, stated that he had never seen a flood like this on St. Mark's Square. "There were waves like we were on the beach," he said.

Venice Mayor Luigi Bruniaro said the damage was "huge, hundreds of millions of euros."

The Italian Government is building a sophisticated flood protection system to protect Venice from floods. But the multi-billion dollar project has been under construction since 2003 and has been delayed several times.

In October, the Consortium Venice Nuova consortium responsible for the project confirmed another delay, this time due to vibrations in some sections of the sewer pipes.

Climate change

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9659004] In a tweet, Venice Mayor Luigi Bruniaro blamed climate change for the unusually high tides, which he described as "a wound that will leave a permanent imprint."

While scientists cannot blame a particular event on climate change, it is said that extreme weather events such as floods or fires occur more often due to climate change.

Venice, which is already struggling with tides, is particularly vulnerable to any further rise in sea level.

Global sea levels are expected to rise between two and seven feet (0.6 meters by 2.1 meters) – and possibly more – during the 21st century. For Venice, this would be a disaster, leaving its streets completely submerged.
  A shop throws water from its store during a high tide on November 13 in Venice.

The sinking city

The flood risk is exacerbated by the fact that Venice itself is sinking.

Recent studies using GPS data and radar images have found that different parts of the city and its lagoons are still sinking between 1 and 4 millimeters (0.04 and 0.16 inches) a year and the entire city is tilting east . [19659004] Scientists thought that much of the sinking was caused by the artificial pumping of groundwater beyond the city, which led to sediment settling. However, a new study shows that although the pump has stopped, the damping has not occurred.

Cruise ships and over tourism

Venice is crowded. Really, very crowded. In August, an average of 465,100 daily commuters travel to the city, in addition to the 2.2 million overnight tourists, according to the National Tourism Agency.
Between April and October, approximately 32,000 cruise ship passengers board each day in Venice, according to the Port Authority.
The Venetian authorities warn that the level of tourism is unsustainable. They floated ideas to introduce an entry fee and a ban on commuters during the day and huge cruise ships that cause environmental damage and spoil the views.

Eventually, Venice announced in August that it would begin re-routing some cruise ships to neighboring terminals.

  People cross the Riva degli Skiavoni Bridge on November 14, 2019 in Venice.

Disappeared locals

For many locals, the crowd of tourists is just getting too big. Just under 53,000 people call Venice their home, about one-third of what it was 50 years ago.

The population is also aging as young people leave to seek employment outside the tourism sector. This is bad news for the local economy and its future population projections.

Gianluca Metzofiore and CNN's Livia Borghese contributed to the reporting.


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