Mount Nyiragongo’s massive volcanic eruption in DR Congo leaves people 15 dead and many homeless.
The hot red radiance of the volcano lit up the nighttime sky above the lakeside city of about 2 million, some escaped east toward the frontier with neighboring Rwanda, while others fled to the west.
Flowing lava from the volcanic eruption approached the airport of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s main city of Goma on Saturday, as thousands evacuated the city.
While the Congo volcano lava advances towards the airport, an evacuation plan is ordered. Back on Sunday, thick fumes of lava from a volcanic eruption covered hundreds of houses in eastern Congo, leaving trails of destruction while residents rummaged through the wreckage for belongings and loved ones. Fortunately, the lava flow halted just short of the city of Goma.
People gather with their belongings following volcanic activities at Mount Nyiragongo near Goma. Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist based in Goma, said new fractures were opening in Nyiragongo, allowing the lava to flow southward toward Goma after initially flowing east toward Rwanda.
“Now Goma is the target,” Tedesco told Reuters. “It’s similar to 2002. I think that the lava is going towards the city center. “It might stop before or go on. It’s difficult to forecast,” he said.
A United Nations source said all UN aircraft had been evacuated to the city of Bukavu to the south and Entebbe in neighboring Uganda.
Power was also out across much of Goma and phone lines were busy.
In Kinshasa, the capital, Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, convened an emergency meeting, where the government activated an evacuation plan for Goma.
“We hope that the measures that have been taken this evening will allow the population to reach the points that were indicated to them in this (evacuation) plan,” government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said in comments broadcast on national television.
Volcano spectators have been worried that the volcanic activity observed in the last five years at Nyiragongo mirrors that in the years preceding eruptions in 1977 and 2002.
Volcanologists at the Goma Volcano Observatory, which observes Nyiragongo, have struggled to make basic checks on a regular basis since the World Bank cut funding amid embezzlement allegations.
In a bulletin on May 10, the observatory said there had been increased seismic activity at Nyiragongo earlier in the month.
With trepidation, Goma residents, recalling Mount Nyiragongo’s last eruption in 2002 that killed 250 people and left 120,000 homeless, where they could just escape with bare essentials.
Presently, as the lava is moving towards the city, it is hoped that it would halt there and not cause damage as it did in 2000.