Brit couple caught in Venice’s ‘apocalyptic’ floods declared worst in 50 years


 A British couple has been caught up the devastation of Venice’s ‘apocalyptic’ floods – the worst the city has seen in 50 years  The Italian city’s mayor has called it a disaster zone after the second highest tide ever recorded swept through overnight   A local man from Pellestrina, one of the many islands in the Venetian lagoon, died when he was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump, the fire brigade said A second person has also been found dead in the city, the BBC reports.  The historic basilica has been flooded and many squares and alleyways have been left deep under water  Today, a couple from Cornwall who have been caught up in the chaos described how heavy rain and spring tides have left large parts of the iconic city submerged   Elizabeth Dale, from Perranarworthal, flew out to Venice to meet her partner Richard Williams who is currently on a bicycle ride across Europe, Cornwall Live reports    However, despite their plans for a relaxing catch-up, Elizabeth and Richard have arrived in the city as tourists wade through flooded streets to seek shelter from a fierce wind which has whipped up waves in St Mark’s Square  The exceptionally intense high waters peaked at 1.87 metres (six feet) as the flood alarm sounded across the Italian city of canals  Elizabeth said: “We got here two days ago and it’s been raining quite a lot. I came out to meet my partner who has cycled here from Cornwall and we haven’t seen each other in two and a half months    “The idea was to have a quick break before he heads off on his bike again and I’m due to fly back tomorrow  “The first day it rained a lot but nothing too dramatic. We got up and went to St Mark’s Square and they had the planking out as the water was quite deep I struggled to get around as I only had short wellies and I thought I was being sensible bringing them  “Later we went out for dinner and when we went to leave the water was very deep and had risen within 15 or 20 minutes  “This morning we went out two hours ago to get breakfast before high tide but the water hasn’t subsided and now it’s started raining again We’ve also had a powercut and heard the flood siren which was a bit concerning.”   Elizabeth, who blogs about Cornwall’s hidden places , said that despite the concerning conditions, locals remain defiant  She added: “The Venetians are stoic about it. People are prepared but the problem at the moment is that they can’t pump out the water quick enough  “The water is inside shops now and the Venetians are wearing thigh high waders.”  The high water has invaded cafes, stores and other businesses  Sirens warned people of the rising water, and as a precaution, authorities closed nursery schools  Tourists have had difficulty in checking into their hotels, as gangways were washed away, forcing them to enter the hotels through windows   Initially Richard was only going to cycle the north Cornwall coast but has kept going and now done about 2,600 miles including long stints over The Alps in wet and miserable weather  Night-time footage showed a torrent of water whipped up by high winds raging through Venice’s city centre while Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, described a scene of “apocalyptic devastation”   Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the situation was dramatic. “We ask the government to help us The cost will be high. This is the result of climate change,” he said on Twitter  He said he would declare a disaster zone and ask the government to call a state of emergency, which would allow funds to be freed to address the damage  Saint Mark’s Square was submerged by more than one metre of water, while the adjacent Saint Mark’s Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years – but the fourth in the last 20   A flood barrier was designed in 1984 to protect Venice from the kind of high tides that hit the city on Tuesday, but the multi-billion euro project, known as Mose, has been plagued by corruption scandals and is still not operative   Brugnaro said the basilica had suffered “grave damage”, but no details were available on the state of its mainly Byzantine interior, famous for its rich mosaics  Its administrator said the basilica had aged 20 years in a single day when it was flooded last year

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