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Flood-hit Brazil is bracing for more chaos with heavy rains on the way, affecting nearly 2 million people

People in southern Brazil, already reeling from deadly floods, are bracing for more disruption as meteorologists warned on Friday of 12 straight hours of heavy rain and more over the weekend.

The death toll from the floods that have ravaged parts of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul has risen to 113, the state’s civil defense said, as brutal downpours sweep the region and spread to parts of neighboring Uruguay.

Officials are urging those rescued from the floods not to return to their homes.

Heavy rain is expected to hit parts of the center and eastern parts of the state from Friday to Sunday, with 150mm expected in some areas during that time, the national meteorology institute INMET said. North of the capital, Porto Alegre, 100 millimeters of rain is expected to fall in 24 hours.

“It is important to emphasize that the forecast amounts of rain may cause new disruptions in areas that have been previously affected,” said a statement from INMET.

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The storms have affected more than 1.9 million people in Brazil and displaced hundreds of thousands, many of whom are in temporary shelters. More than 140 people are still missing.

Katiane Mello, left, and her husband, James Vargas, before leaving their flooded home in Eldorado do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul state, on May 9, 2024.  -Carlos Fabal/AFP/Getty Images

Katiane Mello, left, and her husband, James Vargas, before leaving their flooded home in Eldorado do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul state, on May 9, 2024. -Carlos Fabal/AFP/Getty Images

A horse was found stranded on a roof in a flooded area in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul on Wednesday, May 8.  - TV GloboA horse was found stranded on a roof in a flooded area in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul on Wednesday, May 8.  - TV Globo

A horse was found stranded on a roof in a flooded area in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul on Wednesday, May 8. – TV Globo

Scenes of the devastating weather event have been broadcast around the world, including video footage of a horse that had to be rescued after being stranded on a roof for several days.

The animal was rescued on Thursday by members of the Sao Paulo army. According to state-owned company Agencia Brasil, the horse – which was baptized on social media as Caramelo – was tranquilized before being placed on a boat as part of the rescue effort.

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It was stuck on the roof surrounded by floodwaters for four days in the municipality of Canoas in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Posted a video on X of the moment he heard about the horse’s rescue. Agencia Brasil, the state-run news agency, has reported the rescue of more than 2,000 animals since floods hit Rio Grande du Sol, including dogs, cats, chickens and pigs.

Uruguay has also been swamped by the storms. More than 1,300 people have been displaced there, while thousands of others remain without electricity, the national emergency system said on Wednesday evening, without indicating whether there were any casualties.

There are growing concerns that gangs could take advantage of the abandoned homes and businesses. At least 47 people have been arrested for crimes related to the catastrophic flooding, with 41 suspected of looting establishments. Six are said to have committed sexual abuse in shelters, Agencia Brasil reported.

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The record rainfall has been linked to El Niño, a natural climate phenomenon that warms Pacific Ocean waters and tends to bring heavy rains to southern Brazil. Long-term global warming, caused mainly by humans burning fossil fuels, has also worsened the region’s extreme weather.

Cars are surrounded by flooded streets after heavy rain in Canoas, Rio Grande do Sul state, on May 9, 2024. - Carlos Macedo/APCars are surrounded by flooded streets after heavy rain in Canoas, Rio Grande do Sul state, on May 9, 2024. - Carlos Macedo/AP

Cars are surrounded by flooded streets after heavy rain in Canoas, Rio Grande do Sul state, on May 9, 2024. – Carlos Macedo/AP

Brazilian Air Force soldiers prepare donations for flood victims at Brasilia Air Base.  – Adriano Machado/ReutersBrazilian Air Force soldiers prepare donations for flood victims at Brasilia Air Base.  – Adriano Machado/Reuters

Brazilian Air Force soldiers prepare donations for flood victims at Brasilia Air Base. – Adriano Machado/Reuters

Rio Grande do Sul – Brazil’s southernmost state and until recently a quiet agricultural region – has repeatedly experienced extreme weather events in recent years.

According to the state government, reconstruction will require 19 billion Brazilian real ($3.7 billion US dollars). Recent satellite magic from the state shows entire neighborhoods with roads turned into rivers, a football field in a cavernous stadium submerged and an airport runway underwater.

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