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Venice declares state of emergency following 'apocalyptic' floods

"Venice's mayor declared a state of emergency on Wednesday after "apocalyptic" floods swept through the lagoon city, flooding its historic basilica and inundating squares and centuries-old buildings.

Thoroughfares were turned into raging torrents, stone balustrades were shattered, boats tossed ashore and gondolas smashed against their moorings as the lagoon tide peaked at 1.8 metres shortly before midnight.

It was the highest level since the record 1.94 metres set in 1966, but with rising water levels becoming a regular threat to the tourist jewel, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro was quick to blame climate change for the disaster.

"Venice is on its knees," said Brugnaro. "The damage will run into hundreds of millions of euros."

"This is the result of climate change," he said on Twitter."

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