Venetians protest cruise ships and corruption after historic flooding

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Venetians protest cruise ships and corruption after historic flooding
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Thousands of angry Venice residents took to the streets to protest on Sunday, even while floodwaters rose again in the canal city.


Braving heavy rain, between 2,000 and 3,000 people vented their anger over frequent flooding and the impact of giant cruise ships.

Protesters were answering the call of environmental groups and No Grande Navi (No Big Ships), a collective opposed to the mega cruise vessels which are a regular sight in Venice.

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

There have been long-running protests against cruise ships in Venice, where critics say the waves the giant ships create are eroding the foundations of the lagoon city.

While Italian politicians have repeatedly discussed "banning" the cruise ships from the fragile area, the vessels continue to dock in the lagoon to the dismay of many local residents.

Angry residents also called for the resignation of city mayor Luigi Brugnaro.

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Chanting slogans such as "Venice resist", the marchers also appealed for the city's massive and long-delayed flood barrier project, Mose, to be cancelled and protested the corruption they say has dogged the project from the outset.

READ ALSO: What happened to Venice's planned flood barriers?

The multi-billion euro infrastructure project has been underway since 2003, intended to protect the city from flooding, but it has been plagued by cost overruns, corruption scandals and delays.

The protest follows unprecedented flooding earlier this month that devastated the city, submerging homes, businesses and cultural treasures.


Part of the Mose barrier in Venice's lagoon. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

"Venetians have just endured a deep wound. The flooding... brought this city to its knees and revealed its extreme fragility to the world," activist Enrico Palazzi told AFP.

Venetians are accustomed to flooding in their UNESCO city surrounded by a lagoon, but last week's wave of inundations was unprecedented in modern times, with Tuesday's high not seen since 1966.


Even as the protestors were on the streets, floodwaters in Venice were rising again on Sunday.

Venice saw yet another "acqua alta" (high water) event on Sunday, with levels reaching 130 centimetres (over four feet).

While lower than the historic 1.87 centimetres (six feet) seen on November 12, Sunday's floods were enough to cause serious disruption and damage once again in the city.

The UNESCO World Heritage city is home to some 50,000 people, while some 36 million people visit it each year.

READ ALSO: 'Tourism is killing Venice, but it's also the only key to survival'



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