On the list of unpleasant places to wake up unexpectedly, a morgue has to top the list -- but that's what happened to a South African man who terrified morgue workers when he jolted back to consciousness on Sunday.

The man, who is in his 60s but did not wish to be identified, suffered an asthma attack over the weekend and was claimed by a private mortuary company his family opted for rather than paramedics. The man slumbered in a refrigerated morgue for 21 hours before he awoke to the sight of corpses surrounding him.

"Two workers heard screaming from the refrigerators," Sizwe Kupelo, spokesman for the Eastern Cape Health Department, told ABC News. "They thought it was a ghost and they ran for their lives."

Kupelo said that the man was sent home after undergoing observation. But he said the incident underscored the necessity of having trained health professionals examine people.

"This is why we're saying as a health department that people should call health services to have their relatives declared and certified dead and not these private mortuaries," he said. "Those guys are aren't trained paramedics. They're about business."

It's not the first time such a thing has happened -- in a defining moment for irony, a Russian woman recently died of fright after awakening at her own funeral.