VENICE, Italy (Reuters) – Venice’s mayor prepared to declare the city a disaster zone on Wednesday after the second highest tide ever recorded flooded its historic basilica and left many of its squares and alleyways deep under water.
A local man from Pellestrina, one of the many islands in the Venetian lagoon, died overnight when he was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump, the fire brigade said.
City officials said the tide peaked at 187 cm (6ft 2ins) at 10.50 p.m. (2150 GMT) on Tuesday, just short of the record 194 cm set in 1966.
Night-time footage showed a torrent of water whipped up by high winds raging through the city center.
“The situation is dramatic,” Brugnaro said on Twitter. “We ask the government to help us. The cost will be high. This is the result of climate change.”
He 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.
Saint Mark’s Square was submerged by more than one meter of water, while the adjacent Saint Mark’s Basilica was flooded for only the sixth time in 1,200 years.
On Wednesday morning the tide level fell to 145 cm but was expected to rise back to 160 cm during the day.
Reporting by Riccardo Bastianello; Writing by Crispian Balmer; editing by Grant McCool and John Stonestreet