The South African National Defence Force(SANDF) has deployed humanitarian teams to Malawi and Mozambique after Tropical Cyclone Idai left a trail of destruction.

The SANDF says a team of 10 military health practitioners, with search and rescue air assets have been dispatched to the two countries.

Cyclone Idai brought floodwater and destruction to areas of Mozambique and Malawi.

It battered central Mozambique on Friday killing at least 21 people there and cutting off more than half a million residents of the port city Beira.

Even before the cyclone made landfall on Friday, heavy rains earlier in the week had already claimed 66 lives and forced 17 000 people from their homes in Mozambique, local officials said.

They also affected neighbouring Malawi, where 56 people died. The UN says more than 100 people have died in Mozambique and Malawi.

As the cyclone hit, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi appealed for emergency assistance for the victims.

“We have compatriots suffering without hope and we have to restore hope,” he said.

The cyclone has now hit Zimbabwe, cutting off power and communications. At least 31 people have died in eastern Zimbabwe. Additional reporting AFP