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Three-quarters of Venice is under water in worst flooding since 2008

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Water levels in Venice rose more than five feet (156cm / 61.4 inches), with residents and tourists wading their way through flooded areas.

City’s iconic piazzas are covered in water, not pigeons, as three-quarters of the city is submerged, following a storm system that brought strong winds, rose water levels, and toppled trees.

The peak level of the water on Monday was the highest reached since December 2008, according to city statistics.

The water levels even exceeded raised walkways in the city which are made for flooded areas, prompting their removal. Most of Venice’s famous water bus system was also closed down.

Speaking on Monday, Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said a series of underwater barriers would have prevented the rising water levels.

That project, dubbed ‘Moses,’ has been long delayed, with cost overruns and corruption scandals to blame.

Brugnaro said he had spoken with Premier Guiseppe Conte to stress the urgency of the Moses project, which would raise barriers when the tide reaches 109 centimeters (43 inches). That happens four times a year in Venice on average.

Much of Italy is under flooding alerts following heavy rains on Sunday and Monday, with high winds and toppled trees leading to at least five deaths.