Mercury (Hobart) - - WORLD -

VENICE has de­clared a state of emer­gency af­ter a 1.8m flood dev­as­tated the tourist hotspot and killed at least two peo­ple.

Veneto re­gional gov­er­nor Luca Zaia said: “There’s apoc­a­lyp­tic dev­as­ta­tion.”

“Venice is on its knees … the art, the basil­ica, the shops and the homes, a dis­as­ter … The city is brac­ing it­self for the next high tide,” he said.

St Mark’s Square was sub­merged by more than 1m of wa­ter, while the ad­ja­cent St Mark’s Basil­ica was flooded for only the sixth time in 1200 years – spark­ing fears for mil­lions of dol­lars worth of price­less art.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brug­naro blamed cli­mate change for the “dra­matic sit­u­a­tion” af­ter one man died as a di­rect re­sult of the flood­ing. The vic­tim, a lo­cal man from Pellest­rina, was killed af­ter be­ing struck by light­ning while us­ing an elec­tric wa­ter pump.

The body of another man was re­port­edly found when rel­a­tives en­tered his home.

Mr Brug­naro said the basil­ica had suf­fered “grave dam­age”, but no de­tails were given on the state of its world-fa­mous Byzan­tine in­te­rior.

Only once since records be­gan in 1923 has the tide been higher, reach­ing 1.94m in 1966.

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