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St Mark’s Square in Venice is Closed

People with a boat walk in St. Mark's Square after days of severe flooding in Venice, Italy, November 17, 2019. REUTERS

St Mark’s Square in Venice is Closed

Italian city suffers worst series of high tides since 1872 after receiving 150cm of rain on Sunday

St Mark’s Square in Venice is Closed

Venice has closed St Mark’s Square as the city suffered a third major flooding in less than a week, while rain lashed the rest of Italy and warnings were issued in Florence and Pisa.

Sunday’s “acqua alta”, or high water, of 150cm was lower than Tuesday’s 187cm – the highest level in half a century – but still dangerous. Tuesday’s high waters submerged about 80% of the city, officials said. It is the fourth tide since Monday to reach above 140cm. This is the worst week for high tides in Venice since 1872 when official statistics were first produced.

A man walks in St. Mark’s Square after days of severe flooding in Venice

The Mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, tweeted – “St Mark’s Square is closed. Safety first,” he said as the sea water began to swamp the already devastated historic city where authorities have declared a state of emergency. Brugnaro estimates damage so far from the invading salt water at more than €1bn.

Emergency workers removed temporary walkways from St Mark’s Square as the water started to rise on Sunday, with only police and soldiers visible at about midday.

Emergency workers walk through St. Mark’s Square to remove temporary walk ways

The Serenissima, as the floating city is called, is home to 50,000 residents and receives 36 million visitors each year.

Hotel owners in Venice reported cancelled reservations, some as far ahead as December, after the widespread dissemination of images of Venice underwater.

Water floods into St. Mark’s square as high tide reaches peak, in Venice on November 17, 2019. 

Global Warning 

Many, including Venice’s mayor, have blamed the disaster on global warming and warned that countries prone to natural disasters must wake up to the risks posed by ever more volatile seasons.

Mose, an infrastructure project has been under way since 2003 to protect the city, but the multibillion-euro project has been plagued by cost overruns, corruption scandals and delays.

The crisis has prompted the government to release €20m (£17m) in funds to tackle the devastation.

The culture minister, Dario Franceschini, has warned the task of repairing the city, where more than 50 churches have suffered damage, will be huge.

Residents whose houses have been hit are eligible for up to €5,000 in immediate government aid, while restaurant and shop owners can receive up to €20,000 and apply for more later.

 

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