A series of strong winds, high tide, and torrential rain has caused the iconic city of Venice, Italy to flood, with Sunday’s tide reaching its sixth-highest level since 1872.
Up to 70 percent of central Venice was flooded with photos showing businesses, homes, and tourist sites are covered in water, reports The Washington Post.
The flooding was caused by two weather systems which combined over the Mediterranean and the Balkans, pushing wind and water up the Adriatic Sea. The resulting convergence also produced torrential rains seen in parts of northern Italy.
The flooding was so bad in St. Mark’s Square that tourists donned bathing suits to swim, sitting at cafe tables under the water.
There was no estimate to the amount of damage caused by the flooding, reports Reuters. Tuscany also saw torrential rains with nine inches falling in just four hours. Mayor of Massa Carrara, Tuscany, Roberto Pucci stated:
“It has been devastating. I saw at least six bridges destroyed in the hills, floods, landslides, vineyards and olive groves swept away. If there hasn’t been a death it’s a miracle.”
Local media reported that dozens of people were forced to take refuge on their roofs after rivers spilled over their banks in central Italy. The country’s Environment Minister Corrado Clini called for extra funding to help shore up Italy’s weather defenses, because more bad weather is expected to come through the area on Tuesday.
Sunday’s incident is the fourth time Venice has flooded since 2000, creating record high water levels. The city’s environment officer believes that the latest flooding is the result of global climate change.