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Italian flood warnings spread beyond Venice, as rivers rise in Pisa, Florence

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By John Paul Ging  & Alice Tidey
Tourists walk in St. Mark’s Square after days of severe flooding in Venice, Italy, November 17, 2019.
Tourists walk in St. Mark’s Square after days of severe flooding in Venice, Italy, November 17, 2019.   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri   -  

After a wave of rainstorms recently hit Italy, there are fears other major cities could soon join Venice in being several feet underwater.

In Pisa, in north-western Italy, 170 paratroopers were deployed on Sunday to bolster the city's flood defences after the Arno river which flows through the city rose dramatically.

Fears of flooding had receded in Florence on Sunday evening. The Arno, which also goes through the historical city, had risen by 4.8 metres because of the rain but remained under the critical level of 5.5 metres.

Aerial footage shared earlier in the day by the police showed the river's level perilously close to the medieval Ponte Vecchio's deck.

"The situation is under control and monitored continuously," Mayor Dario Nardella wrote on Facebook, thanking first responders for carrying out 47 interventions throughout the municipality.

He noted however that the wider Tuscany region remains under amber warning until early afternoon on Tuesday.

In the Emilia Romagna region, which is still under yellow warning for rain and thunderstorms, bridges have been closed; hundreds of people have been evacuated and the railway between Bologna and Porto Maggiore has been cut.

Some 10,000 people also remain without electricity in Modena while an elderly couple had to be airlifted out by firefighters after the Idice river flooded Bologna.

Meanwhile in Venice the state of emergency continues as the UNESCO city was flooded on Sunday by a record third exceptional tide in one week.

The floodwater reached 1.5 meters as strong storms and winds battered the region again.

The perilous deluges have already caused millions of euros worth of damage prompting the government to release €20 million in funds to tackle the devastation.