People make their way in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019.  Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

VENICE, Italy (AP) — Exceptionally high tidal waters rolled relentlessly through Venice again on Friday, forcing the closure of St. Mark’s Square to the public and flooding most of the lagoon city’s already devastated center before easing.

Forecasters warned that the danger for more wind-propelled high tides remained through the weekend.

The Italian government issued an international appeal for donations to help repair damage to the centuries-old city’s rich cultural heritage after Tuesday’s floods, which were the worst in decades.

People can donate 2 euros ($2.20) by sending a text message to a special number Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said.

“All the world loves this splendid city, let them show it now,’’ he said in a statement.

A senior port authority official wrote to major cruise ship companies to for donations.

Massive cruise liners disgorge thousands of day-trippers into Venice on a near-daily basis, boosting its economy but also risking accidents with smaller vessels.

Late Tuesday, Venice water levels reached 1.87 meters (6 feet, 1 inch) above sea level, the highest flooding since 1966.

On Friday, ten minutes before noon, the tide peaked at 1.54 meters (5 feet) above sea level. Six hours later, it had receded to some 60 centimeters (two feet).

Built on a series of tiny islets amid a system of canals, Venice is particularly vulnerable to a combination of rising sea levels due to climate change coupled with the city’s well-documented sinking into the mud. The sea level in Venice is 10 centimeters (4 inches) higher than it was 50 years ago, according to the city’s tide office.

More than 50 churches have reported damage from the tides, Minister Franceschini said as he inspected the city. Carabinieri officers from the corps’ world-renowned and highly-trained squad of art experts were being deployed to map damage to art treasures, a job that is expected to take some time.

“While the water is still there, it’s difficult to know what the (full) damage is,” Franceschini said.

The minister called on lawmakers of all political stripes to quickly approve extending tax breaks for those who donate to help restore state monuments and artworks and also for those who contribute for Venice’s damaged churches.

“There are so many churches which have suffered damage and were invaded by water,’’ Franceschini. Likely the most heavily damaged was St. Mark’s Basilica, since it is in one of the lowest points of the city.

At the government’s request, the Italian Space Agency was gathering radar data from satellites to detect any signs that Venice bell towers may have shifted or that their foundations might have weakened after being buffeted countless times over the centuries by fast-rising waters.

On Thursday, the government declared a state of emergency, approving 20 million euros ($22.1 million) to help Venice repair the most urgent damage.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has estimated damage at hundreds of millions of euros and blamed climate change for the city’s plight.

He also called for the speedy completion of the city’s long-delayed Moses flood defense project. Moses consists of a series of moveable barriers in the lagoon that can be raised when high winds and high tides combine to threaten to send “acqua alta,’’ as the uniquely Venetian phenomenon is known, rushing across the city.

Completion of the multibillion-euro project, under construction since 2003, has been delayed by corruption scandals, cost overruns and opposition from environmentalists who were worried about its effects on Venice’s delicate lagoon ecosystem.

Opposition politicians in the Veneto Region, which has Venice as its capital, noted wryly that the local center-right majority had just voted against an amendment to fund efforts aimed at dealing with climate change when the regional assembly hall was flooded Tuesday night, forcing politicians to flee.

While tourists sloshed earlier in the week in St. Mark’s Square or strolled across it on strategically placed raised walkways to witness the water rushing into ancient St. Mark’s Basilica, on Friday, the mayor said he asked police to block off the square, which covered in water up to adults’ knees.

University students in Venice rushed to libraries and other institutions filled with books and manuscripts to help shift the material to higher stories. Improvising, at least one volunteer used a hair dryer to dry a valued volume, page by page.

The Italian Society of Authors and Editors, which said Venice’s book stores and libraries were “gravely damaged” by the high water, launched a fundraising campaign. Pitching for donations from Italy and abroad, the group said it was important to “take the side of those who every day are on the front lines for the defense of Italian culture.”

It said one Venice bookstore, poignantly named “Acqua Alta” (High Water), had been completely submerged by the rushing water.

Venice’s La Fenice opera theater was left unusable by the flooding. Milan’s opera theater, La Scala, said it would mount a special ballet on Nov. 29 to raise funds for La Fenice.

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Giada Zampano and Frances D’Emilio contributed from Rome.

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Follow AP's full coverage of climate issues at https://www.apnews.com/Climate

People wade their way through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People use trestle bridges to walk in a flooded St. Mark's Square at Venice, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019.The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 centimeters (76 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Municipality workers carry wooden boards to make a trestle bridge in a flooded St. Mark's Square at Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019.The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 centimeters (76 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A man holds his cameras as he walks in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 centimeters (76 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People wade their way through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Municipality workers carry wooden boards to create a trestle bridge in a flooded St. Mark's Square at Venice, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019.The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 centimeters (76 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A ma makes his way through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
The League leader Matteo Salvini walks in a flooded St. Mark's Square at Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 centimeters (76 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People wade their way through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People stand near shops in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 centimeters (76 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Tourists gather in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 centimeters (76 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Chairs are piled up in the water in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov.15, 2019. The high-water mark hit 187 centimeters (74 inches) late Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, meaning more than 85% of the city was flooded. The highest level ever recorded was 194 centimeters (76 inches) during infamous flooding in 1966. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A man holds up a phone during a video call to show a a flooded alley outside a shop, in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark's Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People wade their way through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark's Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People wade their way through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark's Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A man holding a bag of what appear to be breadsticks wades through water, in Venice, northern Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark’s Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years. (Andrea Merola/ANSA via AP)
People wade their way through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A man makes his way through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People wade their way through water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
People make their way through the water in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Waters are rising in Venice where the tide is reaching exceptional levels just three days after the Italian lagoon city experienced its worst flooding in more than 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A dead rat floats in St. Mark square in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark's Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years.  (Emiliano Crespi/ANSA via AP)
A man looks out of a doorway at the flooding in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark's Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years.  (Emiliano Crespi/ANSA via AP)
Volunteers pile up damaged books from renowned bookstore
This picture made available Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 shows the Sala del Leone (Lion Hall) meeting room of the Veneto regional council in the Palazzo Ferro Fini palace, in Venice, Italy, early Wednesday Nov. 13, 2019 after its second-worst flooding on record late Tuesday when water levels reached 1.87 meters (6 feet, 1 inch). Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark’s Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years. (Andrea Zanoni via AP)
This picture made available Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 shows the Sala del Leone (Lion Hall) meeting room of the Veneto regional council in the Palazzo Ferro Fini palace, in Venice, Italy, early Wednesday Nov. 13, 2019 after its second-worst flooding on record late Tuesday when water levels reached 1.87 meters (6 feet, 1 inch). Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark’s Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years. (Andrea Zanoni via AP)
A woman tries to cross a flooded street as people walk on a trestle bridge during high water, in Venice, northern Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark’s Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years. (Andrea Merola/ANSA via AP)
People walk on a trestle bridge during high water, in Venice, northern Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark’s Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years. (Andrea Merola/ANSA via AP)
A man holds up a phone during a video call to show a a flooded alley outside a shop, in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. Exceptionally high tidal waters returned to Venice on Friday, prompting the mayor to close the iconic St. Mark's Square and call for donations to repair the Italian lagoon city just three days after it experienced its worst flooding in 50 years. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)