Venetians marooned by tide

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 14 Nov 2019

Venetians woke yesterday to devastating scenes after the highest tide in 50 years washed through the historic Italian city.

Shopkeepers along the Grand Canal raged against those who have failed to protect the city, blaming corruption for a long delay to building a barrier system.

"The city is on its knees," mayor Luigi Brugnaro wailed in the famed St Mark's Square, which bore the brunt of the flooding.

The high tide peaked at 1.87 meters. Only once since records began in 1923 has the sea gone higher, reaching 1.94m in 1966.

The fire brigade mounted more than 250 operations, rescuing people stranded on jetties and recovering boats that broke from moorings.

And a 78-year-old man was killed by an electric shock as water poured into his home.

The president of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, said 80 percent of Venice had been submerged, causing "unimaginable damage."

And like most people, German tourist Gabi Brueckner, 58, blamed climate change and feared "it will get worse and Venice will drown."

A huge project started in 2003 to protect the city has been plagued by corruption scandals and delays.

The plan involves 78 gates that can be raised to shield Venice's lagoon from high tides. But a test of the barrier set off vibrations, and engineers discovered parts had rusted.

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