State of emergency declared in flood-hit Venice

Flood-hit Venice was bracing for another exceptional high tide Friday, as Italy declared a state of emergency for the UNESCO city where perilous deluges have caused millions of euros worth of damage.

Churches, shops and homes in the city of canals have been inundated by unusually intense "acqua alta," or high waters, which on Tuesday hit their highest level in half a century.

The crisis, driven by bad weather, has prompted the government to release 20 million euros (22 million U.S. dollars) in funds to tackle the devastation.

The water was expected to reach 1.5 meters mid-morning on Friday as strong storms and winds batter the region – it's expected to be lower than Tuesday's peak but still dangerous, local officials said.

Some famous landmarks as follows have been affected:

St. Mark's Square

St. Mark's Square, known as Piazza San Marco in Italian, is the principal public square of Venice, and is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.

Feeding the pigeons in this square is a must for almost all visitors to Venice but now the square is flooded like a pool.

St. Mark's Basilica

As the best known example of Italo-Byzantine architecture, the St. Mark's Basilica is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The structure of the cathedral dates back to the 11th century.

The crypt beneath the church is now inundated with water, and the columns supporting the church have long caused worry due to flood damage.

Tourists in the flooded St. Mark's Square. /VCG Photo

Tourists in the flooded St. Mark's Square. /VCG Photo

Doge's Palace

Founded in 1340, the Doge's Palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice. 

Now the palace is flooded in deep water.

Banksy's mural

A mural of a girl holding up a pink flare painted by mysterious British Banksy is now partially underwater due to the flood.

The mural was found in May 2019.

The artist also set up a series of oil paintings "Venice in Oil." 

Many tourists are taking photos in their neon plastic boots. But for Venice residents, the damage is a real pain.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who has called the flooding "a blow to the heart of our country," said late Thursday that a state of emergency has been approved.

Residents whose houses had been hit would immediately get up to 5,000 euros in government aid, while restaurant and shop owners could receive up to 20,000 euros and apply for more later, he said.

(With input from AFP. )