Worst floods for 50 years bring Venice to ‘its knees’

Updated 4:26 PM EST, Wed November 13, 2019
A photographer takes pictures in a flooded St. Mark's Square, in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. The high tide reached a peak of 127cm (4.1ft) at 10:35am while an even higher level of 140cm(4.6ft) was predicted for later Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Luca Bruno/AP
A photographer takes pictures in a flooded St. Mark's Square, in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. The high tide reached a peak of 127cm (4.1ft) at 10:35am while an even higher level of 140cm(4.6ft) was predicted for later Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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(CNN) —  

The worst flooding to hit Venice in more than 50 years has brought the historic city to its knees, its mayor said on Wednesday.

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

The crypt of St. Mark’s Basilica was inundated for just the sixth time in 1,200 years.

Local authorities in the Italian lagoon city called for a state of emergency to be imposed, as an elderly man was left dead in the floods. The unnamed man was killed on Tuesday night while he was trying to run electric pumps at his home on the island of Pellestrina, Alessandro Bertasi, spokesman for Venice’s mayor, told CNN.

The popular tourist destination was struck by an exceptionally high tide on Tuesday night, which peaked at 187 centimeters (73.6 inches), according to a statement by Venice’s government Wednesday morning.

It is the worst flooding in Venice since 1966, when the city was hit by tides up to 194 cm (76.4 inches) high, according to government statistics.