Venice hit by another ferocious high tide, flooding city

Venice hit by another ferocious high tide, flooding city
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A flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. (AP)
Venice hit by another ferocious high tide, flooding city
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A man takes photos of a flooded alley in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. (AP)
Venice hit by another ferocious high tide, flooding city
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A flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. (AP)
Venice hit by another ferocious high tide, flooding city
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A man holds his luggage as he wades through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. (AP)
Updated 15 November 2019

Venice hit by another ferocious high tide, flooding city

Venice hit by another ferocious high tide, flooding city
  • The government declared a state of emergency for Venice on Thursday, allocating 20 million euros ($22 million) to address the immediate damage
  • Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is spread over 118 islands and once presided over a powerful maritime empire

VENICE: An exceptionally high tide hit Venice again on Friday just three days after the city suffered its worst flooding in more than 50 years, leaving squares, shops and hotels once more inundated.
Mayor Luigi Brugnaro closed access to the submerged St. Mark’s Square and issued an international appeal for funds, warning that the damage caused by this week’s floods could rise to one billion euros.
Local authorities said the high tide peaked at 154 cm (5.05 ft), slightly below expectations and significantly lower than the 187 cm level reached on Tuesday, which was the second highest tide ever recorded in Venice.
But it was still enough to leave 70% of the city under water, fraying the nerves of locals who faced yet another large-scale clean-up operation.
“We have been in this emergency for days and we just can’t put up with it any more,” said Venetian resident Nava Naccara.
The government declared a state of emergency for Venice on Thursday, allocating 20 million euros ($22 million) to address the immediate damage, but Brugnaro predicted the costs would be vastly higher and launched a fund to help pay for repairs.
“Venice was destroyed the other day. We are talking about damage totalling a billion euros,” he said in a video.
Sirens wailed across the city from the early morning hours, warning of the impending high tide. Sea water swiftly filled the crypt beneath St. Mark’s Basilica, built more than a thousand years ago.
Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is spread over 118 islands and once presided over a powerful maritime empire. The city is filled with Gothic architectural masterpieces which house paintings by some of Italy’s most important artists.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said initial checks suggested the damage to St. Mark’s was not irreparable, but warned that more than 50 churches across the city had been flooded this week.
“Visiting here you see that the disaster is much bigger than you think when you watch the images on television,” he said.
After Friday’s high waters, forecasters predicted tides of up to 110-120 cm during the weekend. In normal conditions, tides of 80-90cm are generally seen as high but manageable.
The mayor has blamed climate change for the ever-increasing flood waters that the city has had to deal with in recent years, with the mean sea level estimated to be more than 20 cm higher than it was a century ago, and set to raise much further.
Groups of volunteers and students arrived in the city center to help businesses mop up, while schools remained closed, as they have been most of the week.
“When you hear the name Venice, it is always like sunsets and everything pretty but it is a bit crazy now that we are here,” said British tourist Chelsea Smart. “I knew it was going to flood ... but I didn’t expect it to be this high.”
At the city’s internationally renowned bookshop Acqua Alta — the Italian for high water — staff were trying to dry out thousands of water-damaged books and prints, usually kept in boats, bath tubs and plastic bins.
“The only thing we were able to do was to raise the books as much as possible but unfortunately even that wasn’t enough ... about half of the bookshop was completely flooded,” said Oriana, who works in the store.
Some shops stayed open throughout the high tide, welcoming in hardy customers wading through the waters in boots up to their thighs. Other stores remained shuttered, with some owners saying they had no idea when they could resume trade.
“Our electrics are burnt out,” said Nicola Gastaldon, who runs a city-center bar. “This is an old bar and all the woodwork inside is from the 1920s and earlier which we will have to scrub down with fresh water and then clean up again.”
A flood barrier designed to protect Venice from high tides is not expected to start working until the end of 2021, with the project plagued by the sort of problems that have come to characterise major Italian infrastructure programs — corruption, cost overruns and prolonged delays.


Calls abroad grow for release of Putin critic Navalny

Calls abroad grow for release of Putin critic Navalny
Updated 18 January 2021

Calls abroad grow for release of Putin critic Navalny

Calls abroad grow for release of Putin critic Navalny

MOSCOW: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was being held in a Moscow police cell on Monday after his dramatic airport arrest, as calls grew in the West for his immediate release.
President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic was still waiting to see his lawyer hours after being taken away at border control following a flight from Germany where he was recovering after a near-deadly poisoning attack.
He was picked up by police on arrival, prompting a wave of Western condemnation, with foreign governments and activists urging the Kremlin to release Navalny.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday it was “totally incomprehensible” that the Russian authorities arrested Navalny and called on Russia to “immediately” release him.
Navalny “took the conscious decision to return to Russia because he sees it as his personal and political home,” Maas said.
A close Navalny ally said early Monday that the opposition politician was being held in the town of Khimki just outside Moscow and that a member of his defense team could see Navalny during the morning.
“They are now allowing a lawyer in,” Leonid Volkov wrote on Twitter.
Navalny was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport less on arrival from Germany where he had been recovering from a nerve agent attack he says was carried out by the FSB domestic intelligence on Putin’s orders.
The United States, the European Union, several EU governments, Canada and a senior aide to US President-elect Joe Biden immediately called for his release, with some in the EU urging new sanctions against Moscow.
Rights groups joined the calls, with Amnesty International saying Navalny had become a prisoner of conscience.
European Council president Charles Michel said Navalny’s detention was “unacceptable,” while the French foreign ministry said the arrest caused “very strong concern.”
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit back telling foreign leaders to “respect international law” and “deal with the problems in your own country.”

Navalny, 44, was met by uniformed police at passport control after his Berlin flight touched down in Moscow.
He embraced his wife Yulia who was traveling with him and was led away.
Russia’s FSIN prison service said on Sunday it had detained Navalny for “multiple violations” of a 2014 suspended sentence for fraud, adding that “he will be held in custody” until a court ruling.
Speaking to journalists at Sheremetyevo before his detention, Navalny said he did not fear being arrested.
“I know that the criminal cases against me are fabricated,” Navalny said, standing in the terminal in front of a picture of the Kremlin.
His plane landed at Sheremetyevo after a last-minute diversion from another Moscow airport, Vnukovo, where hundreds of supporters and media were waiting.
Several of his associates were taken into custody at the airport while the plane was in the air, including prominent Moscow activist Lyubov Sobol and other top aides.
OVD Info, which monitors detentions at political protests in Russia, said that around 70 people had been detained.
Sobol and others later said they were released and were facing administrative charges.
Navalny fell violently ill on a flight over Siberia in August and was flown to Berlin in an induced coma. Western experts concluded he was poisoned with Soviet-designed nerve toxin Novichok.
The Kremlin denies any involvement and Russian investigators say there are no grounds to launch a probe.
Navalny has been the symbol of Russia’s protest movement for a decade after rising to prominence as an anti-corruption blogger and leading anti-government street rallies.