Congo volcano erupts, city of Goma residents flee

Lawrence Kim
May 25, 2021

Goma was thrown into panic on Saturday evening as Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world's most active and unsafe volcanoes, erupted, turning the night sky an eerie red and sending a wall of orange lava downhill towards the lakeside city of about 2 million people.

"It is moving at a snail's pace, on three or four lanes", he said, adding: "There are children, women, old people who are on foot and the rain is coming". I ran away and he got burned inside.

The last time a major Nyiragongo eruption occurred was in 2002, when around 250 people were killed and 120,000 were left without homes, as lava flows destroyed about 20 percent of Goma.

Goma, a lakeside city of about 2 million people, was thrown into panic on Saturday evening as the nearby Mount Nyiragongo erupted, turning the night sky an eerie red. "We don't know what to do".

A government delegation including seven ministers arrived from Kinshasa early on Monday, while President Felix Tshisekedi has cut short a European tour to supervise the aid operation.

Goma sits along the border between Congo and neighboring Rwanda, and is a regional hub for many humanitarian agencies in the region, as well as the United Nations peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO. Vehicle horns honked and motorcycle taxis weaved as people attempted to escape in panic.

The volcano's deadliest eruption happened in 1977, when more than 600 people died.

Patrick Kakesa of the International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO) said in a statement at 11pm that the lava appears to be flowing towards the border with Rwanda.

But the molten earth flow did cross a main road out of the city, cutting it off from the north and leaving many people stranded as they tried to return to their homes and assess the damage.

Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation associated with the Albertine rift. "The volcano devastated all our homes and possessions", he said.

"We just had a big aftershock - I'm scared to stay in my office", said a resident who gave her name only as Deborah, an employee at an global organisation, reached by telephone.

"Now Goma is the target", Tedesco told Reuters.

Tourists who were near the crater when the volcano erupted are safe, the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) tweeted, adding that the rare mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park, where Mount Nyiragongo is located, were also not threatened by the eruption.

Volcanologist Honore Chiraba of the Goma Volcano Observatory told CNN there are two fractures in the volcano.

A seismic activity observatory was created in Goma after the 2002 eruption to track both volcanoes, but they have not been monitored for the past seven months because of a lack of funding, according to a local specialist.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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