KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo has called on members of the public to come forward and identify loved ones who died as a result of heavy floods which rocked parts of the province on Monday and Tuesday.
The MEC said the recovered bodies had been transported to the Pinetown and Magwaza Maphalala Street medico-legal mortuaries.
As of Wednesday morning, 51 people had been confirmed dead as a result of floods which swept through various parts of the province at the beginning of the week. Massive damage was also inflicted on public and private infrastructure.
Three people have also been confirmed dead in the Eastern Cape, Netwerk24 reported on Wednesday.
'Extremely difficult time'
Dhlomo said, at the Pinetown medico-legal mortuary, that the remains of 36 deceased were being kept for families to identify. "They were taken from Chatsworth, Malvern, Mariannhill and surrounding areas, while the Magwaza Maphalala mortuary is looking after the remains of 15 deceased," said Dhlomo.
They were brought in from Umlazi, Reservoir Hills, Overport, Bluff and surrounding areas.
"This is an extremely difficult time, but we have put these measures in place to help our fellow compatriots to cope at this difficult time," the MEC said.
Dhlomo added that members of the clergy and social workers would be on hand to provide counselling and other psycho-social support services for the bereaved families.
The extent of damage to infrastructure includes flooded and blocked roads, collapsed buildings and perimeter walls, blocked storm water drains and sewer lines, flooded buildings and households, and power outages as a result of electric cable damage.
Displaced communities have had to be temporarily accommodated in community halls, where they will receive emergency relief assistance.
'Thoughts and prayers'
President Cyril Ramaphosa, meanwhile, visited affected areas on Wednesday morning. He had previously expressed his personal sadness over the loss of life and damage to property.
"As South Africans, the entire nation's thoughts and prayers are with the people of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape who have been affected by the forces of nature, against which they had little defence," said the president.
Data from the South African Weather Service (SAWS) showed heavy rain on the east coast of SA, affecting KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
There are strong indicators that rain will also affect the western Free State and the Northern Cape.