A state of emergency has been declared in Venice after chaotic high tides ripped through the city, submerging almost 85% of land on Tuesday evening, November 12, 2019. The water level has reached up to 1.87 m (6.1 feet) which is the highest in 50 years and the second-highest on record, according to the city's forecast office. Two fatalities have been reported. Another surge of "aqua alta" or high waters is expected to cause further devastation on Wednesday, November 13.
Authorities confirmed that part of the 85% of the flooded areas is the historic basilica, which was hit for the sixth time in 1 200 years, as well as many of its squares and alleyways. One of the areas that have been hit the hardest was St. Mark's Square, which is in a low-lying part of the city.
Italian newspaper La Stampa reported two fatalities - one elderly man was electrocuted after floods swept through his home on the island of Pellestrina, while another man was found lifeless in his home.
The last time the tide had been higher, reaching 1.94 m (6.3 feet), was in 1966 - official records started in 1923, the tide monitoring center said.
The city of Venice is made up of more than 100 islands inside a lagoon off the north-east coast of Italy.
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the flood levels represented "a wound that will leave indelible signs," and the cost of the damage would be very high. "We ask the government to help us. This is the result of climate change."
Furthermore, Brugnaro warned that a project to help prevent the Venetian lagoon, suffering from devastating floods, must be finished as soon as possible.
The mayor also urged local businesses to help by sharing photos and video footage of the devastation, which he said would be useful when asking financial support from the government.
A number of businesses have been badly affected - chairs, tables, and objects were seen floating outside cafes and restaurants. Some employees tried to save their stocks from the waters to prevent further damage. One shopkeeper told a broadcaster, "the city is on its knees." Governor Luca Zaia of the Veneto region went on to describe the situation, saying it was a scene of "apocalyptic devastation."
According to Mediterranean Cyclone Centre, the high tides are associated with Cyclone "Victoria", which was located west of Sardinia, Italy on November 11. The storm is expected to batter areas near the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Tunisia, Croatia, and Albania.
Furthermore, the agency reported on November 12 that the storm was barrelling towards Italy with winds of 105 km/h (65 mph), with gusts of 120 km/h (75 mph).
#CycloneVictoria or #WindstormVictoria is currently barreling towards #Italy with winds of 105 km/h, moving NNE at 61 km/h. Victoria is taking a direct aim for #Naples. #weather #Mediterranean #Europe #Albania #Malta #Sicily #Greece #mudslides #rainfall #wind #severeweather pic.twitter.com/Rb4cGeNjck— Mediterranean Cyclone Centre (@Medicane_Centre) November 12, 2019
Current reports for #CycloneVictoria in #Italy and #Albania. Please use our form for filing a severe weather report, which is pinned on our page! #weather #severeweather #Mediterranean #meteorology #wind #rainfall #mudslides #tornadoes #waterspouts #Europe #Greece pic.twitter.com/7RzVNSGmBt— Mediterranean Cyclone Centre (@Medicane_Centre) November 12, 2019
Featured image credit: Luigi Brugnaro