Parts of Mozambique were cut off on Friday as a tropical storm battered the coast and the major port city of Beira with heavy rain and winds of up to up 170 kph (105 mph). 

Cyclone Idai was bringing more floodwater and destruction to areas of Mozambique and Malawi where scores of people have already been killed and tens of thousands displaced by floods over the past few weeks.

In low-lying Beira, a gateway for imports to southeast Africa, Twitter images and television footage showed billboards and rooftops blown away, trees snapped, communication towers knocked down and electricity cables lying across the streets.

Villages along the coast of the northerly Zambezi province were cut off from the mainland by a two-meter storm surge.

Government emergency services had yet to give an update but the South African Weather Service (SAWS) said the cyclone was moving inland, northwest of Beira.

“We don’t have any communications from the area,” said senior forecaster Jan Vermeulen. “I think there’s a lot of damage to infrastructure which is probably responsible for the loss in communications.”

The Mozambican television channel TVM reported that at least five people had been seriously injured.

Beira has a population of 500 000 and sits at the mouth of the Pungwe River.