Two dead as Venice floods at highest level in 50 years

Agency, 14 November : Two people have died as the highest water levels for more than 50 years caused hundreds of millions of euros of possibly irreparable damage in Venice, officials have said, with another surge expected to cause further flooding.

Flood levels in the lagoon city reached the second-highest level since records began in 1923 as a result of the acqua alta, which hit 1.87 metres (74in) late on Tuesday night amid heavy rain, just short of the record 1.94 metres measured in 1966.

Another deluge engulfed the city on Wednesday morning, causing the acqua alta, or high water, to reach 1.60 metres. Most of the water had receded by the afternoon, but residents are bracing themselves for more to come as forecasts predicted high tides of 1.20 metres late on Wednesday night and 1.30 metres on Thursday morning.

An elderly local man from Pellestrina, one of the many islands in the Venetian lagoon, died when he was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump, the fire brigade said. The body of another man was found in his home.

More than 85% of Venice was flooded, authorities said, including the historic St Mark’s basilica. While the water level dropped slightly on Wednesday morning, a further torrent of water, whipped up by high winds, is forecast to sweep in later in the day, reaching a level of 1.60 metres.

The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, said he would declare a state of emergency, adding that the flood levels represented a wound that would leave indelible marks. “We ask the government to help us. This is the result of climate change,” he said, putting the damage in the hundreds of millions of euros.

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