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Johannesburg: At least 51 people have died after heavy rains battered South Africa, authorities said on Wednesday.

The flooding began on Monday after heavy rain caused mudslides in several towns in Durban, the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal, government spokesman Lennox Mabaso told CNN.

"The areas most affected are Amanzimtoti, Chatsworth, Mariannhill," said Mabaso, who works for the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department.

Several incidents of collapsed buildings, walls and flooded homes were reported in the affected areas.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was forced to cut short his trip to the African Union summit in Egypt to visit the areas hit by the tragedy.

"Arrived back home and flew to KwaZulu-Natal to assess the damage caused by the floods and review the recovery efforts," he tweeted.

"Our thoughts are with the affected communities in KZN and Eastern Cape. I urge those living in the affected areas to take extra caution in this period."

Makeshift shelters and food were being provided for those displaced from their homes in the aftermath of the flooding.

State-owned broadcaster SABC had put the number of those displaced at over 1,000.

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