Italy Venice Flooding

Women wade through water in Venice, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 centimeters (76 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

VENICE, Italy (AP) — The worst flooding in Venice in more than 50 years prompted calls Wednesday to better protect the historic city from rising sea levels as officials calculated hundreds of millions of euros in damage.

The water reached 6.14 feet above average sea level Tuesday, the second-highest level ever recorded in the city and just 2½ inches lower than the historic 1966 flood. Another wave of exceptionally high water followed Wednesday.

“Venice is on its knees,’’ Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter. “St. Mark’s Basilica has sustained serious damage, like the entire city and its islands.”

One death was blamed on the flooding, on the barrier island of Pellestrina. A man in his 70s was apparently electrocuted when he tried to start a pump in his dwelling, said Danny Carrella, an official on the island of 3,500 inhabitants.

In Venice, the crypt beneath St. Mark’s Basilica was inundated for only the second time in its history. Damage was also reported at the Ca’ Pesaro modern art gallery, where a short circuit set off a fire, and at La Fenice theater, where authorities turned off electricity as a precaution after the control room was flooded.

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