Venice hit by highest tide in 50 years
Parts of the Italian city of Venice have been left under water after the highest tide in more than 50 years.
The waters peaked at 1.87m (6ft), according to the tide monitoring centre. Only once since records began in 1923 has the tide been higher, reaching 1.94m in 1966.
Images showed popular tourist sites left completely flooded and people wading through the streets as Venice was hit by a storm.
St Mark’s Square – one of the lowest parts of the city – was one of the worst hit areas. St Mark’s Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years, according to records.
Pierpaolo Campostrini, a member of St Mark’s council, said four of those floods had now occurred within the past 20 years. The city of Venice is made up of more than 100 islands inside a lagoon off the north-east coast of Italy.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said he would declare a state of disaster and warned that the flood would “leave a permanent mark”.
“The situation is dramatic. We ask the government to help us. The cost will be high. This is the result of climate change,” he said on Twitter.
People throughout the city waded through the flood waters.
A number of businesses were affected. Chairs and tables were seen floating outside cafes and restaurants.
In shops, workers tried to move their stock away from the water to prevent any further damage.
Three waterbuses sank in Venice but tourists continued their sightseeing as best they could.
One French couple told AFP news agency that they had “effectively swum” after some of the wooden platforms placed around the city in areas prone to flooding overturned.
A project to protect the city from flooding has been under way since 2003 but has been hit by soaring costs, scandals and delays.
The plan aims to build a number of floating gates to protect the city during high tide.
Italy was hit by heavy rainfall on Tuesday with further bad weather expected in the coming days.