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Is Venice Europe's latest underwater attraction?
Posted on 13/11/2019

EnvironmentItaly

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Venice hit by worst ever flooding since infamous 1966 'acqua alta.'

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The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, has declared a state of emergency after the city has experienced its highest levels of floods in over 50 years. The levels are just shy of the infamous floods of 1966, when the ?acqua alta' (high waters) reached 194 cm. This time, water levels peaked at 187 cm and the damage caused is sure to be lasting. The mayor has called upon the government for help and states that these floods are the result of the climate crisis.

As Brugnaro warned of a long night ahead, the fears that arrived with the torrential rainfall and floods were replaced by various assessments of the damage done. Up to now, two people have been found dead as a result of the floods on the island of Pellestrina; a thin strip of land that sits between Venice and the Adriatic Sea. One man was electrocuted when he tried to start a pump in his flooding home.

As one of the lowest points of the city, St Mark's Square has been particularly affected by the floods. Many tourists and locals alike have been photographed walking across temporarily constructed walkways that are raised above the water. A couple of French tourists are reported to have "effectively swum" after some of these wooden platforms placed in areas most prone to flooding were overturned.

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Venice is not the only city to be affected by these extreme climatic conditions. In the past few days, torrential rainfall has affected many cities throughout Italy. Matera, one of this year's European Capitals of Culture, has been inundated with rainwater which has flooded the city's well known cave-dwelling district.

Many businesses have been affected. Tables and chairs have been seen floating outside cafes and restaurants, workers have been attempting to move their stock to prevent further damage and water taxis have been helping people climb through the windows of historic hotels along the Grand Canal after discovering that many of the gangways had been washed away.

Despite three waterbuses sinking, tourists still seem determined to make the most of their time in Venice.

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Since 2003, a huge infrastructure project to prevent the city from fooding has been underway. However, rocketing costs, scandals and delays have had a serious impact on the fulfillment of these projects. The plan aims to construct a number of floating gates which are able to protect the city during a high tide.

The Italian city of canals prepares for worse to come, as more bad weather is expected in the coming days.