Who is to blame if Venice goes underwater?

The flooded St Mark's Square, including St Mark's Basilica (centre), on Thursday in Venice. Much of Venice was left underwater after the highest tide in 50 years ripped through the historic Italian city, beaching gondolas, trashing hotels and sending
The flooded St Mark's Square, including St Mark's Basilica (centre), on Thursday in Venice. Much of Venice was left underwater after the highest tide in 50 years ripped through the historic Italian city, beaching gondolas, trashing hotels and sending tourists fleeing. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The floods in Venice that have killed two people and damaged hundreds of buildings, including St Mark's Basilica, appear inexorable.

The city is a fragile treasure built on 118 islands off Italy's north-east coast. In a way, it's a miracle that Venice has managed to survive and thrive for more than 1,000 years. It built a naval and commercial empire and created an immense collection of palaces and churches full of priceless paintings, to which an estimated 20 million tourists flock every year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2019, with the headline 'Who is to blame if Venice goes underwater?'. Subscribe