The Veneto regional council chambers flooded moments after it rejected efforts to fight climate change.
The council is located on Venice‘s Grand Canal, which has experienced severe flooding — the worst the city has seen in 50 years.
Located in Ferro Fini Palace, the chambers first took in water at around 10 p.m. local time. Council members were debating the 2020 budget, which partly dictated how they would approach future climate change measures.
Democratic Party councillor Andrea Zanoni detailed the events in a Facebook post written in Italian and translated by CNN. He also shared photos of the flooded chambers, showing waters reaching as high as the bottom of chairs.
“Ironically, the chamber was flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia parties rejected our amendments to tackle climate change,” he wrote.
Zanoni, according to CNN, is the deputy chairman of the environment committee.
The post reads that the rejected amendments included funding renewable sources, replacing diesel buses with “less polluting ones,” getting rid of polluting stoves and reducing the impact of plastic pollution.
In the post, Zanoni accuses Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, of not considering climate change during the presentation of his budget. Zaia is a member of former Italian prime minister Matteo Salvini’s far-right League Party.
The council’s president, Roberto Ciambetti, shared a statement with CNN rejecting Zanoni’s claims.
“Beyond propaganda and deceptive reading, we are voting a regional budget that spent €965 million over the past three years in the fight against air pollution, smog, which is a determining factor in climate change,” the statement reads.
Ciambetti shared shocking footage of flooding in the palace on Tuesday that shows water running down stairs and through the hallways.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro shared a video statement on Twitter on Tuesday as well, declaring climate change a direct cause of the historical flooding the city has seen this week.
He declared the city a disaster zone on Wednesday after the second-highest tide ever recorded swept through it overnight, flooding its historic basilica and leaving many squares and alleyways deep underwater.
A local man from Pellestrina, one of the many islands in the Venetian lagoon, died when he was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump, the fire brigade said. A second death has also been reported.
City officials said the tide peaked at 187 centimetres at 10:50 p.m. on Tuesday, just short of the record 194 centimetres set in 1966.
Nighttime footage showed a torrent of water whipped up by high winds raging through the city centre while Zaia described a scene of “apocalyptic devastation.”
—With files from Riccardo Bastianello/ReutersFollow @meaghanwray
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