After “apocalyptic” floods swept through the lagoon city Venice’s mayor declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.
Streets were turned into raging torrents, stone barriers were shattered, boats tossed ashore and gondolas shattered against their anchorages as the lagoon tide peaked at 6 feet 2 inches shortly before midnight.
It was the highest level since the 1966 epic floods.
Over the years the rising water levels is becoming a regular threat to the tourist jewel. Venices mayor Luigi Brugnaro was quick to attribute climate change for the disaster.
More than eighty percent of Venice was under water when the tide was at its peak and although levels had lessened by daybreak further bad weather was anticipated later in the week, with a string of thunderstorms lining up to pound Italy.
A flood blockade was conceived in 1984 to protect Venice from high tides, but the multi-billion euro project, known as Mose, has been dogged by the sort of setbacks that have come to characterize major Italian infrastructure projects prolonged delays in the backdrop of corruption and cost overruns.
While residents started a clean-up operation, some tourists seemed to enjoy the drama, with one man filmed swimming through Saint Mark’s Square dressed in only shorts on Tuesday evening.
The overnight surge triggered a number of small fires, including one at the International Gallery of Modern Art Ca’ Pesaro.
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Sources: NBC News, Reuters, Twitter, Youtube
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