(Porto Alegre) Torrential rains falling on southern Brazil increased the flow of rivers on Sunday, raising fears of further damage in a region already devastated by unprecedented floods which left 145 dead.

“The situation is critical,” Antonio Vanzan, a 50-year-old resident of the town of Sao Leopoldo, a suburb of Porto Alegre, the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul devastated by floods, told AFP.

“If the rain doesn’t stop, what will happen? It could raise the level of the river and increase the water in the neighborhoods,” he worries.

Not far away, in a flooded street, Claudio da Silva rows a small boat after observing the damage in his neighborhood. “My house is destroyed. In the neighboring house, that of my brother-in-law, the water reached half of the first floor,” says this 36-year-old electrician. “It’s chaos. There are a lot of dead animals. It’s very sad “.

Heavy downpours at the beginning of the month in the region caused rivers to overflow, affecting more than two million people and leaving 145 dead and 806 injured, according to the latest report from Civil Defense on Sunday.

Some 132 people are still missing, while more than 619,000 have been forced to abandon their homes due to this disaster, associated with climate change and the El Niño phenomenon, according to the same source.

The Guaiba, a body of water that borders the regional capital Porto Alegre – considered as much as a river, a lake or an estuary – reached its lowest level since May 3 (4.57 m) on Saturday.

The Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, however, said the water in the Guaiba could rise to 5.5 meters between Monday and Tuesday.

On May 5 and 6, Guaiba reached a record level of 5.3 meters. The first overflows occur from three meters.

Other rivers in the region are also experiencing water levels higher than in recent days and continue to overflow.

The flooding of the Taquari River has notably put the small town of Mucum on alert, barely recovering from a devastating cyclone last September.

The town of Pelotas, south of Porto Alegre, “is facing a worsening situation” which “increases the probability of flooding”, warned its mayor Paula Mascarenhas on Instagram, calling for the evacuation of areas at risk.

The regional capital of 1.4 million inhabitants, still partly under water and where rescue operations continue, was also affected by downpours on Sunday, AFP journalists noted.

“The situation will continue to get worse,” wrote the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, Eduardo Leite, on the social network

In the northeast of the state, there is a “high risk of major flooding and river overflows, as well as large landslides,” according to the National Institute of Meteorology.

The probability of further flooding is “very high” in most regions of the state, estimated the National Center for Monitoring and Warning for Natural Disasters (Cemaden).

In a video on Sunday on X, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed his “solidarity” with the victims. “You are not alone,” he assured.

The Brazilian government has promised to release some nine billion euros for the reconstruction of this important agricultural state.