Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Heavy rains have led to the most severe flooding in northeast Italy in more than a half-century, officials said Wednesday.
The floods have put parts of Venice underwater.
"Venice is on its knees," Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted. "St. Mark's Basilica has suffered serious damage, like the whole city and the islands. We need everyone's help to get through the next few days that are putting us to the test."
"Now the government must listen," he added. "These are the effects of climate change... the costs will be high.
Brugnaro said water levels peaked at about 6 feet, the highest since 1966.
Officials said two people have died on Pellestrina island, including a 78-year-old man who was electrocuted.
"We are faced with total, apocalyptic devastation," Veneto Governor Luca Zaia said. "I'm not exaggerating; 80 percent of the city is underwater. The damage is unimaginable."
Flooding was also reported in southern Italy, where authorities issued a red alert warning for Italy's Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily regions.
A tornado was spotted in Siracuse, Sicily, and residents reported damage to homes, businesses and farmers' crops.
Firefighters say they have received nearly 500 calls for assistance since Monday night as floodwaters swelled rivers and knocked over trees.