Venice flooding hits second highest level ever

The mayor of Venice has blamed climate change as flooding of the historic lagoon city hit the second-highest level ever, as the city braced for another wave on Wednesday.

The high-water mark hit 74in late on Tuesday, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level recorded was 78in during infamous flooding in 1966.

The governor of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, said one person died, although the cause was not immediately clear.

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Venice hit by floods
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Venice hit by floods
This image made available by the Municipality of Venice shows a ferry stranded on the docks in Venice, Italy, after an exceptional high tide, reaching 1.87 meters above sea level on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. It's the second highest tide peak in Venice in recorded history. On Nov. 4, 1966 waters reached 1.94 meters. (Venice Municipality via AP)
A photographer takes pictures in a flooded St. Mark's Square, in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. The high tide reached a peak of 127cm (4.1ft) at 10:35am while an even higher level of 140cm(4.6ft) was predicted for later Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People walk in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. The high tide reached a peak of 127cm (4.1ft) at 10:35am while an even higher level of 140cm(4.6ft) was predicted for later Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A shopkeeper looks out of his shop at a flooded St. Mark's Square on the occasion of a high tide, in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. The high tide reached a peak of 127cm (4.1ft) at 10:35am while an even higher level of 140cm(4.6ft) was predicted for later Tuesday evening. (Andrea Merola/ANSA via AP)
Una gaviota se alza del agua en la inundada Piazza de San Marco, Venecia, martes 12 de noviembre de 2019. La marea alta alcanzó un pico de 127 centímetros y se pronosticaba un nivel de 140 cm para las próximas horas. (AP Foto/Luca Bruno)
People walk near the Rialto bridge on the occasion of a high tide, in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. The high tide reached a peak of 127cm (4.1ft) at 10:35am while an even higher level of 140cm(4.6ft) was predicted for later Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People stand inside a flooded cafe' on the occasion of a high tide, in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. The high tide reached a peak of 127cm (4.1ft) at 10:35am while an even higher level of 140cm(4.6ft) was predicted for later Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People mop the floor of the flooded St. Mark's Basilica after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on November 13, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding. Within a cyclone that threatens the country, exceptional high water were rising in Venice, with the sirocco winds blowing northwards from the Adriatic sea against the lagoons outlets and preventing the water from flowing back into the sea. At 22:40pm the tide reached 183 cm, the second measure in history after the 198 cm of the 1966 flood. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
People mop the floor of the flooded St. Mark's Basilica after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on November 13, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding. Within a cyclone that threatens the country, exceptional high water were rising in Venice, with the sirocco winds blowing northwards from the Adriatic sea against the lagoons outlets and preventing the water from flowing back into the sea. At 22:40pm the tide reached 183 cm, the second measure in history after the 198 cm of the 1966 flood. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman walks past flooded furniture of a cafe terrace after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on November 13, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding. Within a cyclone that threatens the country, exceptional high water were rising in Venice, with the sirocco winds blowing northwards from the Adriatic sea against the lagoons outlets and preventing the water from flowing back into the sea. At 22:40pm the tide reached 183 cm, the second measure in history after the 198 cm of the 1966 flood. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman walks her dog through a flooded street after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on November 13, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding. Within a cyclone that threatens the country, exceptional high water were rising in Venice, with the sirocco winds blowing northwards from the Adriatic sea against the lagoons outlets and preventing the water from flowing back into the sea. At 22:40pm the tide reached 183 cm, the second measure in history after the 198 cm of the 1966 flood. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
People walk across the Ponte della Paglia bridge, past a stranded gondola after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, early on November 13, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding. Within a cyclone that threatens the country, exceptional high water were rising in Venice, with the sirocco winds blowing northwards from the Adriatic sea against the lagoons outlets and preventing the water from flowing back into the sea. At 22:40pm the tide reached 183 cm, the second measure in history after the 198 cm of the 1966 flood. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
People take selfie photos at the flooded St. Mark's square by St. Mark's Basilica after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, early on November 13, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding. Within a cyclone that threatens the country, exceptional high water were rising in Venice, with the sirocco winds blowing northwards from the Adriatic sea against the lagoons outlets and preventing the water from flowing back into the sea. At 22:40pm the tide reached 183 cm, the second measure in history after the 198 cm of the 1966 flood. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - People walk past a stranded taxi boat on Riva degli Schiavoni, after it was washed away during an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, early on November 13, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding. Within a cyclone that threatens the country, exceptional high water were rising in Venice, with the sirocco winds blowing northwards from the Adriatic sea against the lagoons outlets and preventing the water from flowing back into the sea. At 22:40pm the tide reached 183 cm, the second measure in history after the 198 cm of the 1966 flood. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
A stranded taxi boat is pictured in an alleyway after being washed away during an exceptional "Alta Acqua" high tide water level late on November 12, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding. Within a cyclone that threatens the country, exceptional high water were rising in Venice, with the sirocco winds blowing northwards from the Adriatic sea against the lagoons outlets and preventing the water from flowing back into the sea. At 22:40pm the tide reached 183 cm, the second measure in history after the 198 cm of the 1966 flood. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)
The Mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro walks on St Mark's Square during an exceptionally high water levels in Venice, Italy November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
People walk outside during an exceptionally high water levels in Venice, Italy November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
The flooded crypt of St Mark's Basilica is pictured during an exceptionally high water levels in Venice, Italy November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
A flooded shop during a night of exceptional high water in Venice, Italy November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
A flooded St.Mark's Square is pictured during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
A flooded St.Mark's Square is pictured during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
People walk in a flooded St.Mark's Square during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
Workers are seen in the flooded St.Mark's Square during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
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Photos on social media showed a city ferry and taxi boats grounded on walkways flanking canals. Already on Tuesday, much of the city was under water, inundating the famed St Mark's Basilica and raising new concerns over damage to mosaics and other artworks.

Officials projected a second wave as high as 63in at mid-morning Wednesday.

Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro blamed climate change for the "dramatic situation" and called for a speedy completion of a long-delayed project to construct offshore 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 is opposed by environmentalists concerned about damaging the delicate lagoon eco-system, and it has been delayed by cost overruns and corruption scandals, with no completion date in sight.

St Mark's Basilica
St Mark's Basilica (Luca Bruno/AP)

Mr Zaia told SkyTG24 that the barriers were almost complete, but it was not clear if they would work against such flooding.

"Despite 5 billion euros under water, St Mark's Square certainly wouldn't be secure," he said, referring to one of Venice's lowest points that floods when there is an inundation of 31.5in.

Mr Brugnaro said the flood levels represent "a wound that will leave indelible signs".

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