In Brief

Venice mayor blames climate change for ‘apocalyptic’ floods

Luigi Brugnaro calls for action after high tides kill two

Venice was “on the verge of apocalypse” after the highest tide in more than 50 years left much of the Italian city under water, a local official has said.

Two people died as the tide peaked at 187cm at 10.50pm on Tuesday, just short of the 194cm seen in 1966.

The BBC says the deaths came on the island of Pellestrina, a thin strip of land that separates the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. A man was electrocuted as he tried to start a pump in his home, and a second person was found dead in a different part of the island.

A shopkeeper told Italy’s public broadcaster Rai: “The city is on its knees.”

The mayor says the flooding is a direct result of climate change. The highest water levels in the region in more than 50 years would leave “a permanent mark”, said Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro. “Now the government must listen. These are the effects of climate change... the costs will be high.”

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Brugnaro said the damage was “huge” and “dramatic”, and that he would declare a state of disaster, warning that a project to help prevent the Venetian lagoon suffering devastating floods “must be finished soon”.

The Daily Mail reports that locals claim corruption has repeatedly delayed a barrier protection system which could have prevented the disaster.

The episode was historic. St Mark’s Basilica was flooded for only the sixth time in 1,200 years, according to church records. Pierpaolo Campostrini, a member of St Mark’s council, said four of those floods had now occurred within the past 20 years.

The mayor said the iconic landmark suffered “grave damage,” in the flooding with fears of structural damage to the basilica’s columns.

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