Italy to declare state of emergency in Venice after flood (Pictures)
Italy was poised to declare a state of emergency for Venice Tuesday after an exceptional tide surged through churches, shops and homes, causing millions of euros worth of damage to the UNESCO city.
Tourists larked around in the flooded St Mark's Square in the sunshine, snapping selfies in their neon plastic boots and taking advantage of a respite
Austrian tourist Cornelia Litschauer, 28, said she felt mixed emotions seeing Venice's famous square half submerged. For the tourists it's amazing, it's something to see. But for the people who live here it's a real problem," Litschauer said, cradling her white Chihuahua Pablo. It's strange. Tourists are taking pictures but the city is suffering." he Locanda Al Leon hotel said its bookings had suffered from the international media coverage of the flood, with some guests cancelling their rooms after seeing images of Venice underwater.
Under the arches of the Ducal Palace, a couple from Hong Kong posed for photos in the chilly morning sun. This (trip) was planned a long time ago so we couldn't change it," groom Jay Wong, 34, said. Actually this is a good experience. It's an adventure." Tuesday's "acqua alta," or high waters, submerged around 80 percent of the city, officials said. Only once since records began in 1923 has the water crept even higher, reaching 1.94 metres in 1966. Many, including Venice's mayor, have blamed the disaster on climate change and warned that Italy, a country prone to natural disasters must wake up to the risks posed by ever more volatile seasons. We need to be resilient and adapt. We need a policy that looks at the climate through completely different eyes," Environment Minister Sergio Costa said Thursday.
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has estimated the damage to Venice at hundreds of millions of euros (dollars). The Serenissima, as the floating city is called, is home to a mere 50,000 residents but receives 36 million global visitors each year. A massive infrastructure project called MOSE has been under way since 2003 to protect the city, but it has been plagued by cost overruns, corruption scandals and delays. This engineering solution that will end up costing nearly six billion euros has got to work," Transport Minister Paola De Micheli said. 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 it caused worrying vibrations and engineers discovered it had rusted.