Italy has declared a state of emergency in Venice after the worst flooding to hit the historic city in more than 50 years.
Much of the Italian tourist attraction isunder waterafter “apocalyptic” floods swept through the lagoon city, flooding its historic basilica and inundating squares and centuries-old buildings.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the emergency declaration would be approved at a cabinet meeting later today.
He said it would mean funding to ensure a flood barrier project, known as Moses and designed in 1984 to protect Venice from high tides, would be completed as soon as possible.
“This will make it possible to assign the first financial aid to pay for the emergency spending and restore services said the PM, who went to Venice to observe the damage and discuss the relief effort with officials.
“Our commitment to Venice is total,” the PM told Italian news agency ANSA as he headed back to the capital Rome. “The situation in this unique city is dramatic. “
The flood barrier system is still not up and running despite decades of planning and work and billions of euros of investment.
Mr Conte said: “Lots of money has been spent. It’s on the final straight and now it must be completed and maintained.”
He told Radio Capital that the aim was to complete the project by the end of 2021, adding: “I hope that it is partially in use before then.”
Residents and tourists woke to sirens on Thursday – indicating that the tide was again expected to exceed (cm) 4. 26 ft).
It has already peaked at (cm) 6 . 14 ft) – the second highest level in the city’s history – just short of the 194 cm seen in 1966.
Scores of homes and businesses have been flooded, with the high tides ravaging areas beyond the city itself.
Two people have reportedly died as a result of the flooding.
A man in his 70 s died on the barrier island of Pellestrina after being electrocuted, and another person died on the same island, though the cause was unknown, ANSA said.
On Tuesday, city mayor Luigi Brugnaro blamed climate change for the current crisis.
“Venice is on its knees” he said on Twitter.
” The damage will run into hundreds of millions of euros. “
He added:” This is the result of climate change. “
The high water is known locally as “acqua alta” but even low levels take their toll – eroding the foundations of buildings in the lagoon city.