People walk through a flooded street in Venice where the
water level has risen to 149cm above normal, a local
monitoring institute says. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
The governor of Tuscany in central Italy has asked the
army for help after flooding killed at least one man, forced
dozens of people to leave their homes and swept away bridges
and olive groves.
Torrential rain has caused rivers to burst their banks and
exposed problems with drainage systems across much of
northern Italy. Authorities said a man died when he was
caught by flooding of the Chiarone river near the town of
Nearly three-quarters of Venice was flooded, including St
Mark's Square. Shops, homes and historic palaces filled with
Tuscany governor Enrico Rossi met officials from the Civil
Protection Agency and asked for pumps and other emergency
equipment from the neighbouring region of Emilia Romagna,
which has also seen severe weather in recent days.
He asked the government to send army units to the towns of
Grosseto, Arezzo and Siena after dozens of people were forced
to leave their homes. Television pictures showed
half-submerged cars and people wading in thigh-deep water
along the streets.
"It has been devastating," said Roberto Pucci, mayor of Massa
Carrara in Tuscany, one of the worst hit areas.
"I saw at least six bridges destroyed in the hills, floods,
landslides, vineyards and olive groves swept away," he told
Corriere della Sera newspaper.
The Italian Red Cross deployed 150 volunteers and was
operating emergency food kitchens.
High water in Venice reached 149 cm (5ft), the sixth highest
level since records began in 1872, forcing residents to wade
through waist-deep water. Tourists in swimming costumes sat
at cafe tables.
There was no immediate estimate of damage to the northeastern
city. It was the fourth time since 2000 that Venice has seen
record high water. The city's environment officer blamed
A barrier to protect the city from repeated winter flooding
is due to be finished by 2015.
Flooding in northeastern Italy last year killed several
"There is an urgent need for a national maintenance and
management programme for the regions," Environment Minister
Corrado Clini told SkyTG24 television.