Italy declares state of emergency over Venice flooding

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia

Italy’s government has declared a state of emergency after Venice was deluged by the second worst flood on record.

The city's mayor blamed climate change for flooding of the historic canal city that saw the high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded.

The highest level ever recorded was 198 centimeters (78 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966.

A stranded ferry boat lies on its side in Venice Credit: Luigi Costantini/AP

Officials projected a second wave as high as 160 centimeters (63 inches) at mid-morning Wednesday.

Authorities are now looking to swiftly secure funds to repair damage in the historic city from the deluge.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the flooding as “a blow to the heart of our country”.

A cabinet meeting declared the state of emergency and approved the first measures aimed at helping the city’s recovery.

People make their way through the centre of Venice amid the second-worst floods in its history. Credit: AP

Mr Conte spent Wednesday night in Venice, where world-famous monuments, homes and businesses were hit hard by the exceptional flooding.

The water reached 1.87 meters above sea level on Tuesday, the second-highest level ever recorded in the city.

Usually busy with shoppers and diners, Venice is now flooded. Credit: AP

Venice’s mayor said the damage is estimated at “hundreds of millions of euros” and he called for a speedy completion of a long-delayed project to construct off-shore barriers.

Called "Moses," the moveable under-sea barriers are meant to limit flooding of the city, caused by southerly winds that push the tide into Venice.

But the controversial project opposed by environmentalists concerned about damaging the delicate lagoon eco-system has been delayed by cost-overruns and corruption scandals, with no completion date in site.