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Venice braces for another devastating high tide

Authorities said they were expecting waters would rise again and peak at 160 cm - past the emergency level that sets off sirens in the streets.

A general view shows the flooded St. Mark's Square, with St. Mark's Basilica (Rear) and the Bell Tower on 15 November 2019 in Venice, two days after the city suffered its highest tide in 50 years. Picture: AFP

VENICE - Venice braced for another devastating high tide on Friday morning as the lagoon city struggled with the wreckage left by the biggest surge of floodwaters in 50 years earlier this week.

Authorities said they were expecting waters would rise again and peak at 160cm - past the emergency level that sets off sirens in the streets.

“Another day of alert for Venice. The sirocco wind keeps blowing. I invite all ... to keep yourselves updated on the level of the water,” mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter.

Brugnaro blamed climate change when floodwaters swept through the city on Wednesday, swamping its historic basilica and inundating squares and centuries-old buildings.

Levels were due to peak at 11.20am local time (1020 GMT) on Friday, then ease to 110-120cm during the weekend, tide forecast centre CPSM Venezia said. In normal conditions, levels of 80-90cm are generally seen as high but manageable.

Shopkeepers tried to shore up their businesses on Saint Mark’s Square on Friday morning - many said they had closed to customers 10 days ago when levels broke through the 110cm threshold.

Snow was expected in the city of Belluno, in the northern part of the Veneto region, at the foot of the Dolomites, potentially aggravating the situation in Venice.

The national government declared a state of emergency for Venice on Thursday and allocated an initial 20 million euros ($22 million) to address the immediate damage.

The government will hold an extraordinary meeting on 26 November to discuss “governance and the structural problems of the city,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Friday in an interview with daily Corriere della Sera.