Banksy artwork of a refugee in a life jacket is now under floodwater in Venice

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(CBS NEWS)- One of Banksy’s most famous pieces is now underwater following massive flooding in Venice. As the city faces its worst floods in 50 years, the artwork of a child refugee has slowly become submerged. 

Italy has declared a state of emergency as the historic city faced “apocalyptic” flooding in its famous basilica, squares and centuries-old buildings. The damage will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to repair, and now a poignant Banksy piece may become another cultural casualty of the rising water levels. 

The artwork depicts a migrant child wearing a life jacket and signaling for help with a neon pink flare. Photographs of the piece on Friday show the child partially submerged in water beside one of the city’s canals.

The piece first appeared during the prestigious Venice Biennale earlier this year. The elusive street artist confirmed the work belonged to him on Instagram in May

Banksy’s migrant child mural is partially submerged in Venice, Italy, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. (Photo: LUCA BRUNO / AP)

Exceptionally high tides continued to plague Venice on Friday, prompting Mayor Luigi Brugnaro to close the iconic St. Mark’s Square. St. Mark’s Basilica, a structure that dates back around 1,000 years, has been flooded just six times in its history — twice in the last two years. 

Residents in the picturesque city are used to the canals inching higher every year around this time. But this year has brought the second-worst flooding since record-keeping began. 

“This is the result of climate change,” Brugnaro said bluntly on Twitter.

According to a recent study, rising sea levels are on track to affect about three times more people by 2050 than originally thought. New research suggests that 300 million homes will be affected by coastal flooding in the next 30 years.

And that number could rise to 630 million by the year 2100 if carbon emissions don’t decrease. New estimates mean rising seas will cause more damage, cost more money and impact more communities than ever before.

A U.N. climate change report released in September also highlighted the severe consequences of rising waters.

“Extreme sea-level events, such as surges from tropical cyclones, that are currently historically rare (for example today’s hundred-year event) will become common by 2100 under all emissions scenarios due to increasing global mean sea level rise,” the report stated. “Under all future emissions scenarios, many low-lying megacities and small islands at almost all latitudes will experience such events annually by 2050.”

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