Disaster management officials say 10 people have been killed and thousands more displaced during heavy flooding in Mozambique.

Rita Almeida, spokeswoman for the Disaster Management Office, said Wednesday nearly 20,000 people have been displaced by flooding.

She said seven people died trying to cross the Licungo river in the Zambezia province, while three were struck by lightning in the northern Niassa province.

District manager Teresa Mauhai told Radio Mozambique on Tuesday police are also searching for 18 children who went missing in the Mocuba region near the Licungo river.

Flooding has also damaged one of main roads connecting the north and south of the country. Emergency services are using boats to access flood victims.

Mozambique's government Monday issued a red alert for disaster readiness for the central and northern provinces.