The number of deaths from floods and mudslides that crushed homes in the South African port of Durban early Tuesday has risen to 23, authorities said.

Among those killed were a six-month-old baby and a child aged around 10, they added.

“Last night the weather conditions worsened significantly … in various parts of the province, claiming at least 23 lives,” Nomusa Dube-Ncube, a KwaZulu-Natal provincial minister said during a televised news conference.

At least 32 people have been hospitalised.

The victims were either crushed to death by mudslides or drowned in flood waters, Rescue Care spokesman Garrith Jamieson told AFP.

It was not known how many people were missing, but search and rescue operations combed the debris for those who might be trapped underneath.

In addition to collapsed buildings and flooded roads, sewer lines were blocked and electricity pylons had toppled over.

Torrential downpours have flooded southern and eastern parts of the country since the start of the Easter weekend.

South African military personnel have been dispatched to help rescue and evacuation efforts.

The South African Weather Services warned that more heavy rain and gale force winds were expected until Wednesday, which could threaten low-lying bridges and roads.