Death toll from floods in Brazil's south climbs to at least 136

A man rows a boat on a street flooded by heavy rains, in Sao Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, May 11, 2024. [AP Photo]

The death toll from heavy rains in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state has climbed to 136, the local civil defense government body said on Saturday, up from 126 the previous day, while another 125 people remain unaccounted for.

Storms and floods battering the South American country's southernmost state have also left around 537,000 displaced, according to the local civil defense body, a significant increase from the 340,000 reported a day earlier.

About 446 urban centers have been impacted, affecting the lives of more than 2.1 million people in a state whose population is about 10.9 million.

Weather forecaster Metsul has reported that after a short respite, rains that started coming down over the state on Friday have begun to fill rivers in what it called a "worrying" situation.

"Accumulated precipitation is occurring in the worst possible region given the current flood scenario, along the basins and in the sources of the main rivers that are still full," said the meteorological service in a public statement.

The state is at a geographical meeting point between tropical and polar atmospheres, which has created a weather pattern with periods of intense rains or drought.

Local scientists believe the pattern has been intensifying due to climate change.