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Venice, Italy, floods after experimental barrier system not activated

Floodwaters damaged businesses and other facilities in Venice, Italy, on Tuesday after its experimental MOSE barrier system was not activated due to an inaccurate weather forecast. Photo by Andrea Merola/EPA-EFE
Floodwaters damaged businesses and other facilities in Venice, Italy, on Tuesday after its experimental MOSE barrier system was not activated due to an inaccurate weather forecast. Photo by Andrea Merola/EPA-EFE

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Venice, Italy, flooded after an experimental barrier system was not activated due to an inaccurate weather forecast.

Tides on Tuesday were expected to reach 49 inches, just below the 51 inches that would prompt the inflatable barriers to be deployed, but water instead continued to rise into the late afternoon, reaching 54 inches high.

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The flooding resulted in damage to shops and other businesses throughout St. Mark's Square.

Carlo Alberto Tessarin, a member of the board of procurators of the Byzantine Basilica of St. Mark, said the church sustained significant damage in the flooding.

"We're underwater to a dramatic extent, the damage is serious," he said.

The barrier system, known as MOSE, is currently in a trial phase under the jurisdiction of the Italian state, requiring Venetian authorities to request permission to activate the barriers from the national government.

The system was able to hold back the floodwaters when it was tested for the first time in adverse conditions in October.

Venice is still recovering from its worst flooding in 53 years which left much of the city underwater in 2019.

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