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People walk in front of the Rialto bridge as water levels rise (AP)

In pictures: Venice underwater after second-highest tide ever

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

Tourists and Venetians are taking to the streets in high boots after flooding hit much of the historic city.

The high-water mark hit 74 inches (188cm) late on Tuesday, the second-highest level ever – and more than 85% of the city was flooded.

The highest level recorded was 78 inches in 1966.

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Already on Tuesday, much of the city was underwater. The famed St Mark's Basilica cathedral was inundated, raising new concerns over damage to mosaics and other artworks.

Officials projected that a second wave as high as 63 inches could come mid-morning on Wednesday.

Bad weather continues to dog Italy, with no real let-up forecast for several days.