Venice, Italy declares state of emergency over high tides battering city

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Italian emergency services reported that a 78-year-old local man was killed overnight after suffering an electric shock while using a water pump to remove water from his home, according to Reuters.

Flood levels were the second-highest ever recorded, peaking at 187 centimeters (74 inches), just shy of the 194 centimeters recorded in 1966.

She echoed the mayor in blaming climate change and said she feared like many people that "it will get worse and at some point Venice will drown".

"We feel helpless in the face of nature, but we are also disappointed that either politics or technology has failed", said Claudio Vernier, president of the St Mark's Square Traders' Association. "The costs will be high".

"Of course, this is an exceptional event but the problem is not unusual for Venice, and with the effects of climate change, there will be more floods".

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Brugnaro warned of severe damage and said he would ask the government to declare a state of emergency which would allow funds to be freed to address the damage.

The water overwhelmed seawalls and smashed brick docks, shoving boats into streets and putting portions of landmarks such as St. Mark's Basilica and La Fenice Opera House underwater.

In Venice, the crypt beneath St. Mark's Basilica was inundated for only the second time in its history.

During an acqua alta, water levels in Venice can become dangerously high, and the latest figures show a maximum water depth of 184cm.

According to The Associated Press, the water is expected to rise to around 145 centimeters (4.7 feet) by the end of Tuesday.

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Photos on social media showed a city ferry, taxi boats and gondolas grounded on walkways flanking canals.

The plan involves 78 gates that can be raised to protect Venice's lagoon during high tides - but a recent attempt to test part of the barrier caused worrying vibrations and engineers discovered parts had rusted. 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.

Local authorities and the government's civil protection unit will hold a news conference at 1100 GMT.

In Matera, this year's European Capital of Culture, a tornado caused trees and lamp posts to fall, damaging numerous roofs and buildings.

Weather experts however are forecasting further storms and more heavy rainfall in the coming weeks.

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Areas which have been badly affected include St Mark's Square, a popular destination with tourist visiting Venice.

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