Nine dead in Italy storms as wild weather sweeps Europe

April FrancisOct 31, 2018

In Venice, flooding caused the water level to hit 156 centimeters (61 inches), a 10-year high, and an evacuation of the city's famous St Mark's Square.

Flooding paralysed Italy's lagoon city of Venice on Monday (October 29), as overflowing tides sent high waters into the streets and shops, eyewitness videos show.

Residents and tourists alike struggled to get around the city, even in tall rain boots, and several tourist attractions were shut down as locals dealt with the rising waters.

The city frequently floods when high winds push in water from the lagoon, but yesterday's levels were exceptional.

Venice's central St Mark's Square was closed on Monday afternoon, after the water level reached "acqua alta" (high water) of 156cm (5.1ft).

The waters have only topped 150 centimeters five times before in recorded history.

Almost all of northern Italy was on alert due to storms, which swept across the country yesterday, with wind gusts up to 100km/h and rainfall in some places equivalent to the amount that falls over several months.

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The public transport company closed the water taxi service due to the emergency, with connections remaining active only to the outlying islands. Floods of at least 110 centimeters happen only about four times a year.

Much of Italy is under alert for flooding from heavy rains, a problem exacerbated by a lack of maintenance of the country's river beds.

Two young people died south of Rome when a tree hit their auto, while another person was killed in the nearby town of Terracina as winds brought down scores of pine trees.

"All of Veneto is in code red alarm for this wave of bad weather", said Luca Zaia, the regional president, warning that conditions could match historic flood levels of 1966 when the water reached 1.9 metres.

Locals and tourists have been sharing pictures and videos of a flooded Venice, as they waddle in knee deep water and struggle to walk its streets.

The wild weather, caused by a convergence of high tides and strong winds, forced caused schools to close, while Rome and several other regions halted classes due to the weather.

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