Venice partially submerged after highest tide waters in more than 50 years

Venice partially submerged after highest tide waters in more than 50 years
© Getty Images

Record tides submerged much of Venice, Italy, on Wednesday, flooding hotels and cafes and several tourist destinations in the city, according to The Washington Post.

The so-called acqua alta followed several days of rain across Italy that flooded 85 percent of the city, with water levels peaking at 1.87 meters, or just over 6 feet, with only a 1966 flood reaching higher levels.

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Despite the city’s iconic canals and location in a shallow lagoon, the city’s St. Mark’s Basilica has only been flooded six times, with two such cases occurring in the past two years. Mayor Luigi Brugnaro, attributed the increased flooding to climate change and called for a state of emergency.

“For months now, I have been thinking I should sell my home and leave, because the assets I’d leave to my son one day won’t be worth much of anything,” city official Claudio Madricardo told the Post, saying the rising water had left him temporarily house-bound. “Nobody will want a house in Venice, because the situation will be a disaster.”

Amid the flooding, two people have died on the barrier island of Pellestrina, one of them a 78-year-old electrocuted while trying to perform repairs and another who could have died related to natural causes.

Venice’s issues are compounded by both rising sea levels and the city itself sinking due to shifting tectonic plates below the Italian coast, with climatologists predicting the city will be entirely submerged by the end of the century.

Attempts to install an underwater floodgate system have been stalled by delays and corruption scandals, according to the Post.

“Venice is an emblem for the whole country,” Brugnaro said in a press conference. “We are no longer talking about a local problem, but a worldwide one.”