Venice flooding news – live: Two killed as water approaches record levels and mayor declares city a ‘disaster zone’

Samuel Osborne, Chiara Giordano
The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, walks on St Mark's Square: Manuel Silvestri/REUTERS

Venice‘s mayor has called for the city to be declared a disaster zone after the second highest tide ever recorded left 85 per cent of it underwater.

Two people have died in severe flooding, including one man in his 70s who was killed on the barrier island of Pellestrina when he was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump.

Luigi Brugnaro said the flooding was “the result of climate change“ and warned the damage could cost millions of euros.

Francesco Moraglia, the Archbishop of Venice, said St Mark’s Basilica, which has been flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years, may suffer “irreparable” harm.

The high-water mark hit 187cm (74in) late on Tuesday. The highest level ever recorded was 194cm (76in) during infamous flooding in 1966.

The head of Italy’s transport commission vowed to send lawmakers to Venice to review the long-delayed flood protection barrier system which it is believed could have prevented the high tides.

Construction of the “Mose” system began in 2003 and was set to be completed by 2011, however it is still unfinished and is now predicted to be ready by the end of 2021.

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