Serious flooding in Venice

Extraordinary photos of Venice underwater are making headlines this week as heavy rain and winds have brought the sixth highest tide level to the historic city since 1872.

Most of the main tourist spots are deserted and newspapers have posted photos of visitors wearing wellington boots or swimwear, sitting at almost completely submerged café tables.

Meanwhile, residents are being evacuated from their homes in other areas including Tuscany and north and central Italy are also affected. The Daily Mail reports that 70% of central Venice was under water as the high tide mark reached more than 150cm according to authorities on Sunday, and although flooding is not unusual at this time of year, these floods are so severe that civil defences have been brought in to help with evacuations.

Extremely high tides have only happened 14 times between 1923 and 2011, with 156cm recorded in 2008.

The city is in the process of building its "Moses" flood gates which were supposed to be completed this year but were postponed until 2014. They are part of a plan to protect Venice from unusually high tidees in the future.

The heavy wind and rain is now slowly heading towards Rome, and civil defences there are currently on alert.

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