Italy declares state of emergency over Venice flooding

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the flooding as ‘a blow to the heart of our country’.

VENIC PA Images PA Images

THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT HAS declared a state of emergency in flood-ravaged Venice.

It is looking to swiftly secure funds to repair damage in the historic city from the highest tide in 50 years.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the flooding as “a blow to the heart of our country”.

A cabinet meeting declared the state of emergency and approved the first measures aimed at helping the city’s recovery.

Mr Conte spent last night in Venice, where world-famous monuments, homes and businesses were hit hard by the exceptional flooding.

The water reached 1.87 meters above sea level on Tuesday, the second-highest level ever recorded in the city.

Venice’s mayor said the damage is estimated at “hundreds of millions of euros”.

Yesterday, a couple of French tourists caught out said they had “effectively swum” after some of the wooden platforms placed around the city in areas prone to flooding overturned.

Since 2003, a massive infrastructure project has been underway to protect the city, but it has been plagued by cost overruns, scandals and delays.

The plan calls for the construction of 78 floating gates to protect Venice’s lagoon during high tides.

St Mark’s Square is particularly affected by the high tides, as it is located in one of the lowest parts of the city.

The vestibule of the basilica was inundated with water, and authorities planned to watch the building overnight. 

One member of St Mark’s council said the scale of the flooding yesterday had only been seen five times in the long history of the basilica, where construction began in 828 and which was rebuilt after a fire in 1063.

Most worryingly, he said, three of those five episodes occurred in the last 20 years, most recently in 2018.

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