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Venice floods put more than half of city underwater (PHOTOS)

Venice is in the middle of its worst floods in years, after heavy rains and a storm surge.

Venice's visitors expect to see water – but not this much of it.

Tourists have been wading through waterlogged cafes and swimming across St. Mark's Square after heavy rainfall caused some of the famous Italian city's worst floods in years.

Authorities say 70 percent of Venice is currently underwater, according to Reuters. Water levels rose as much as 5ft above average yesterday, which makes it the city's sixth-worst flood on record.

It was caused by a combination of heavy rain and strong winds, which drove water into the lagoon on which Venice is built and created a storm surge, Deutsche Welle said.

The same bad weather caused floods and mudslides across northern Italy, according to Agence France-Presse, with some 200 people evacuated from parts of Tuscany.

Even before the storm, Venetian waters have been higher than normal for more than two weeks now. The seasonal "acqua alta," or high water, periodically occurs when high tides coincide with strong prevailing winds.

The city's environmental officials have also blamed the flooding on rising sea levels caused by global warming, Reuters said.

The city is also sinking at a rate of about 2mm a year, which scientists put down to the constant extraction of water from below ground.

A system of floating dams designed to protect Venice from high waters is currently under construction, at a cost of around €6 billion ($7.8 billion). It is due to be completed within the next four years.

See how Venice is coping with these latest floods, courtesy of the Guardian:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/italy/121112/venice-floods-acqua-alta-photos