An incredibly high tide in Venice has flooded the city, the highest in 50 years.

Two people have died and hundreds of millions of euros of possibly irreparable damage has occured in Venice, officials say, with another surge expected to cause further flooding.

Flood levels in the lagoon city reached the second-highest level since records began in 1923 as a result of the acqua alta, which hit 1.87 metres late on Tuesday night amid heavy rain, just short of the record 1.94 metres measured in 1966.

The Piazza San Marco after the passage of the exceptional high tide that reached 187 cm on November 12, 2019 in Venice, Italy. Photo / Getty Images
The Piazza San Marco after the passage of the exceptional high tide that reached 187 cm on November 12, 2019 in Venice, Italy. Photo / Getty Images

Venice's iconic St Mark's Basicila is also submerged. St. Mark's Square is looking much changed. The archbishop of Venice, Francesco Moraglia, told The Guardian St Marks had suffered "structural damage, because the water has risen. This is causing irreparable harm, especially – when it dries out – in the lower section of the mosaics and tiling."

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Carlo Alberto Tesserin, who heads the team responsible for managing the historic site, told Agence-France Presse the water had surged into the basilica with a force "never seen before, not even in the 1966 flood".

A view inside the flooded Basilica of St. Mark during an exceptional high tide on November 13, 2019 in Venice, Italy. Photo / Getty Images
A view inside the flooded Basilica of St. Mark during an exceptional high tide on November 13, 2019 in Venice, Italy. Photo / Getty Images
Tourists walk in high water Piazza San Marco in Piazza San Marco on November 12, 2019 in Venice, Italy. Photo / Getty Images
Tourists walk in high water Piazza San Marco in Piazza San Marco on November 12, 2019 in Venice, Italy. Photo / Getty Images

The pictures are quite alarming.

Over 85% of Venice was flooded as of late Tuesday, with the mayor blaming climate change for the disaster and decaring a state of emergency.

Wild winds are making matters worse. While the water level dropped slightly on Wednesday morning, a further torrent of water, whipped up by high winds, is forecast to sweep in later in the day, reaching a level of 1.60 metres.

Some Venetians stayed put. Others tried desperately to stem the damage.