Venice, Nov 17 (AFP/APP): Venice was braced Sunday for an unprecedented third major flooding in less than a week, with sea water due to swamp the already devastated historic city where authorities have declared a state of emergency.
The city forecast “acqua alta”, or high water, of 160 centimetres (over five feet) for 1200 GMT, lower than Tuesday’s 187 centimetres — the highest level in half a century — but still dangerous.
“Maximum attention for today’s tide,” tweeted mayor Luigi Brugnaro, who has estimated damage so far from the invading salt water at over one billion euros (dollars).
“The safety apparatus has been activated. Thanks to all those who are looking after Venice and intervene when needed.”
The renewed threat from exceptionally intense high tides came after a brief respite on Saturday, with visitors on Sunday morning having to walk along improvised gangways on St Mark’s Square as the waters rose yet again.
The top tourist site had been shut for several hours on Friday as strong storms and winds battered the region, leaving it submerged by sea surges.
Churches, shops and homes have also been inundated in the city, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Members of the Italian football team travelled to Venice on Saturday to show solidarity with the stricken city.
“Venice will overcome this too. Like an athlete who suffers a serious injury and then gets up again,” said delegation chief and former Azzurri international Gianluca Vialli.
The crisis has prompted the government to release 20 million euros ($22 million) in funds to tackle the devastation.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini has warned the task of repairing the city, where more than 50 churches have suffered damage, will be huge.