İrem UZUN -TDO- Venice called a state of emergency after severe floods swamped its historic basilica and left many of its squares and alleyways inundated with water. Flood levels were the second-highest ever recorded, peaking at 187 centimeters (74 inches), just shy of the 194 centimeters recorded in 1966. More than 80% of the city, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, was under waterwhen tides were at their highest.On the island of Pellestrina, two people died as a result of the flooding on a thin strip of land that separates the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. A resident was electrocuted as he tried to start a pump in his home and a second person was found dead elsewhere on the island.
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the flooding as "a blow to the heart of our country". He said the government would now act quickly to provide funds and resources.At a cabinet meeting yesterday, the government in Rome took on 'exceptional powers' to respond to the near-record floods. Conte also offered emergency funds after Venice authorities said the damage ran to hundreds of millions of pounds, including millions in St. Mark's Basilica alone.On Wednesday, pumps were deployed to drain water from the church and its 12th Century crypt.