VENICE: ICMD, Nov 17, 2019:

Venice was braced Saturday for an unprecedented third major flooding in less than a week, with sea water due to swamp the already devastated historic city where authorities have declared a state of emergency.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro ordered the iconic St Mark´s Square closed on Friday as the latest sea surge struck with strong storms and winds battering the region.

After a brief respite on Saturday, the city forecast high water of 160 centimeters (over five feet) for just after midday on Sunday, lower than Tuesday´s high of 187 centimeters but still dangerous.

Churches, shops and homes in the city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, have been inundated by unusually intense "acqua alta", or high water, which on Tuesday hit its highest level in half a century.

"We´ve destroyed Venice, we´re talking about one billion (euros) in damage," Brugnaro said after the second major flooding of around 160 centimeters hit on Friday.

The Italian football team traveled to Venice on Saturday to show solidarity with the stricken city.

"On behalf of the whole team, we stand close to the city of Venice," said Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The Italian football federation delegation visited several businesses damaged by the flooding and chatted with Venetians, volunteers, and police.

"Venice will overcome this too. Like an athlete who suffers a serious injury and then gets up again," said delegation chief and former Azzurri international Gianluca Vialli.

The crisis has prompted the government to release 20 million euros ($22 million) in funds to tackle the devastation.

Surveying the damage, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini warned the task of repairing the city would be huge. More than 50 churches had suffered damage, he said.