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Venice Flood Nearly as Bad as 1966     11/13 06:15

   MILAN (AP) -- The mayor of Venice is blaming climate change for flooding in 
the historic canal city that has reached the second-highest levels ever 
recorded, as another exceptional water level was recorded Wednesday.

   The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, meaning 
more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 
centimeters (76 inches) during the infamous flood of 1966.

   A man in his 70s died on the barrier island of Pellestrina, apparently of 
electrocution, said Danny Carrella, an official on the island of 3,500 
inhabitants. He said the situation there remained dramatic, with a meter (more 
than 3 feet) of water still present due to broken pumps.

   Photos on social media showed a city ferry, taxi boats and gondolas grounded 
on walkways flanking canals. At least 60 boats were damaged in the floods, 
according to civil protection authorities, including some pedestrian ferry 
boats.

   Floodwaters inundated the famed St. Mark's Basilica, raising anew concerns 
over damage to the mosaics and other artworks. The electrical system at La 
Fenice theater was deactivated after waters entered the service area, and 
firefighters brought under control a blaze in the Ca' Pesaro modern art 
gallery, caused by a short circuit

   Officials said a second exceptional high of 160 centimeters (63 inches) was 
recorded at midmorning Wednesday, but was quickly receding.

   "Venice is on its knees," Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter. "St. Mark's 
Basilica has sustained serious damage like the entire city and its islands."

   The head of the Venice hotel association said the damage was enormous, with 
many hotels losing electricity and lacking pumps to remove water. Tourists with 
ground floor rooms were had to be evacuated to higher floors as the waters rose 
Tuesday night, the association director Claudio Scarpa told ANSA.

   Brugnaro blamed climate change for the "dramatic situation" and called for a 
speedy completion of a long-delayed project to construct offshore barriers.

   Called "Moses," the moveable undersea barriers are meant to limit flooding 
of the city, caused by southerly winds that push the tide into Venice. But the 
controversial project opposed by environmentalists concerned about damaging the 
delicate lagoon eco-system has been delayed by cost overruns and corruption 
scandals, with no launch date in site.

   Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, told SkyTG24 that the barriers 
were almost complete, but it wasn't clear if they would work against such 
flooding.

   "Despite 5 billion euros under water, St. Mark's Square certainly wouldn't 
be secure," Zaia said, referring to one of Venice's lowest points that floods 
when there is an inundation of 80 centimeters (31.5 inches).

   Brugnaro said that the flood levels represent "a wound that will leave 
indelible signs."

   Across the Adriatic Sea, heavy storm and sweeping winds also collapsed 
caused floods in towns in Croatia and Slovenia.

   In the Croatian town of Split, authorities on Wednesday said that the 
flooding submerged the basement area of the Roman-era Diocletian's Palace where 
emergency crews battled to pump out the water.

   Slovenia's coastal towns of Piran, Izola and Koper reported that sea levels 
reached the second highest point in the last 50 years.


(KR)

 
 
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