Shocking images show the historic St Mark’s Basilica under water – as the regional governor described a scene of “apocalyptic devastation” following the worst floods in 50 years.

 Some brave Venetians tried to go about their business this morning

Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, said: “There’s apocalyptic devastation.

“Venice is on its knees… the art, the basilica, the shops and the homes, a disaster.. The city is bracing itself for the next high tide.”

Saint Mark’s Square was submerged by more than one metre of water, while the adjacent Saint Mark’s Basilica was flooded for only the sixth time in 1,200 years – sparking fears for millions of pounds worth of priceless art.

The floods have also brought misery to tourists and local residents – stranding boats, battering shops and hotels and and leaving many of the city’s squares and alleyways deep underwater.

The city’s Mayor Luigi Brugnaro blamed climate change for the “dramatic situation” after one man died as a direct result of the flooding.

He claimed the basilica had suffered “grave damage”, but no details were available on the state of its world-famous Byzantine interior.

The building’s administrator said it aged 20 years in a single day when it flooded last year.

The victim, a local man from Pellestrina, was killed after being struck by lightning while using an electric water pump.

The body of another man was reportedly found when concerned relatives entered his home.

 The flooding has damaged hundreds of ancient buildings
The flooding has damaged hundreds of ancient buildings
 The floodwater laid waste to a series of luxury hotels
The floodwater laid waste to a series of luxury hotels
 Business owners battled to hold back the water
Business owners battled to hold back the water

Is it safe to travel to Venice?

An estimated 85 per cent of the city is underwater, sparking concerns over damage to ancient mosaics and artworks.

One of two people reportedly killed in the floods, a local man from Pellestrina, died after being struck by lightning while using an electric water pump.

Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro has called for the city to be declared a disaster zone, warning “the cost will be high.”

But the city’s businesses are also very used to dealing with flooding and while many of the tourist attractions, cafes and restaurants are closed, some have remained open, including the Ducal Palace and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia.

The city has also installed raised walkways in certain parts to enable pedestrians to get around.

Night-time footage showed a torrent of water whipped up by high winds raging through the city centre.

Tables and chairs bobbled along alleyways as locals waded to their hotels.

Transport officials closed the water bus system – except to surrounding islands – because of the emergency.

One posh hotel was forced to stack priceless tapestries on tables after a “waterfall” swamped the bar.

A museum of modern art was evacuated after the floodwater sparked an electrical fire.

And two French tourists were forced to SWIM back to their hotel after a makeshift bridge overturned.

Only once since records began in 1923 has the tide been higher, reaching 1.94m (6ft 5ins) in 1966.

Dramatic photos show taxi boats and gondolas grounded on walkways flanking canals.

An estimated 85 per cent of the city is underwater, sparking concerns over damage to ancient mosaics and artworks.

 

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