POST TIME: 16 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 November, 2019 11:43:06 PM
St Mark’s closed as Venice faces more floods
AFP, Venice

St Mark’s closed as Venice faces more floods

A general view shows people walking across the flooded St. Mark's Square, by St. Mark's Basilica yesterday in Venice, two days after the city suffered its highest tide in 50 years. AFP Photo

Another exceptional high tide swamped flood-hit Venice yesterday, prompting the mayor to order St Mark’s square closed after Italy declared a state of emergency for the UNESCO city. Luigi Brugnaro ordered the iconic square closed as the latest sea surge of around 1.6 metres (over five feet) struck and strong storms and winds battered the region—lower than Tuesday’s peak but still dangerous.

“I’m forced to close the square to avoid health risks for citizens... a disaster,” Brugnaro said. Churches, shops and homes in the city of canals have been inundated by unusually intense “acqua alta”, or high water, which on Tuesday hit their highest level in half a century.

“We’ve destroyed Venice, we’re talking about one billion (euros) in damage and that’s just from the other day, not today,” Brugnaro said, as far-right leader Matteo Salvini joined the list of politicians to visit the stricken city.

The crisis, driven by bad weather, has prompted the government to release 20 million euros ($22 million) in funds to tackle the devastation.

Before it was closed, tourists had been larking around in the flooded St Mark’s Square in the sunshine during breaks from the rain, snapping selfies in neon plastic boots.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who has called the flooding “a blow to the heart of our country”, on Thursday declared the emergency.