Venice has declared a state of emergency and closed off the lagoon to cruise ships yesterday as serious floods caused chaos. Many cruise ships have been rerouted to either Ravenna or Trieste.

“No ships are calling at Venice and have been diverted to either Ravenna or Trieste. No ships are expected to call in Venice before November 21,” says a CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) spokesperson in a statement.

“The terminal is open and being used as a transfer point for passengers if needed. The terminal operator has also opened the terminal as a shelter to people made homeless by the floods.”

Flooding is a yearly occurrence in Venice but heavy rains on Tuesday night saw flood levels reach 1.87 metres – the second-highest level in the city’s history. It is just short of the record 1.94 metres in 1966.

Lines like Norwegian Cruise Lines, MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises all had ships scheduled to port in Venice since Tuesday. Princess Cruises’ Pacific Princess is also scheduled to call in Venice on November 23.

The local authorities have said that more than 85 per cent of Venice was flooded, including iconic historic landmarks like the St Mark’s basilica. Many of its squares and alleyways are also inundated with water. The floods have also resulted in two deaths.

The head of the Venice Hotels Association Claudio Scarpa told Italian news agency ANSA that the damage was enormous, with many hotels losing electricity and lacking pumps to remove water. Tourists with ground floor rooms also had to be evacuated to higher floors as the waters rose on Tuesday night.

Residents have been experiencing returning floods since Tuesday, recording 1.60 metres on Wednesday and 1.30 metres on Thursday. They continue to brace for more high waters in the next few days.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has described the floods as “a blow to the heart of our country”. And Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has blamed climate change for the floods, tweeting: “Now the government must listen,” he said. “These are the effects of climate change… the costs will be high.”

Brugnaro said damage would reach hundreds of millions of euros. “We are not just talking about calculating the damages, but of the very future of the city” Brugnaro said.

Many sites remained closed to tourists, and La Fenice theatre cancelled concerts on Wednesday and Thursday evening, where authorities turned off electricity as a precaution after the theatre’s control room was flooded. Damage has also been reported at the Ca’ Pesaro modern art gallery.