Venice Flood Nearly as Bad as 1966 11/13 06:15
MILAN (AP) -- The mayor of Venice is blaming climate change for flooding in
the historic canal city that has reached the second-highest levels ever
recorded, as another exceptional water level was recorded Wednesday.
The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, meaning
more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194
centimeters (76 inches) during the infamous flood of 1966.
A man in his 70s died on the barrier island of Pellestrina, apparently of
electrocution, said Danny Carrella, an official on the island of 3,500
inhabitants. He said the situation there remained dramatic, with a meter (more
than 3 feet) of water still present due to broken pumps.
Photos on social media showed a city ferry, taxi boats and gondolas grounded
on walkways flanking canals. At least 60 boats were damaged in the floods,
according to civil protection authorities, including some pedestrian ferry
Floodwaters inundated the famed St. Mark's Basilica, raising anew concerns
over damage to the mosaics and other artworks. The electrical system at La
Fenice theater was deactivated after waters entered the service area, and
firefighters brought under control a blaze in the Ca' Pesaro modern art
gallery, caused by a short circuit
Officials said a second exceptional high of 160 centimeters (63 inches) was
recorded at midmorning Wednesday, but was quickly receding.
"Venice is on its knees," Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter. "St. Mark's
Basilica has sustained serious damage like the entire city and its islands."
The head of the Venice hotel association said the damage was enormous, with
many hotels losing electricity and lacking pumps to remove water. Tourists with
ground floor rooms were had to be evacuated to higher floors as the waters rose
Tuesday night, the association director Claudio Scarpa told ANSA.
Brugnaro blamed climate change for the "dramatic situation" and called for a
speedy completion of a long-delayed project to construct offshore barriers.
Called "Moses," the moveable undersea barriers are meant to limit flooding
of the city, caused by southerly winds that push the tide into Venice. But the
controversial project opposed by environmentalists concerned about damaging the
delicate lagoon eco-system has been delayed by cost overruns and corruption
scandals, with no launch date in site.
Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, told SkyTG24 that the barriers
were almost complete, but it wasn't clear if they would work against such
"Despite 5 billion euros under water, St. Mark's Square certainly wouldn't
be secure," Zaia said, referring to one of Venice's lowest points that floods
when there is an inundation of 80 centimeters (31.5 inches).
Brugnaro said that the flood levels represent "a wound that will leave
Across the Adriatic Sea, heavy storm and sweeping winds also collapsed
caused floods in towns in Croatia and Slovenia.
In the Croatian town of Split, authorities on Wednesday said that the
flooding submerged the basement area of the Roman-era Diocletian's Palace where
emergency crews battled to pump out the water.
Slovenia's coastal towns of Piran, Izola and Koper reported that sea levels
reached the second highest point in the last 50 years.