Volcano erupts in eastern Congo, thousands flee Goma

Ruben Fields
May 25, 2021

Saturday's eruption appears to have been caused when fractures opened in the volcano's side, causing lava flows in various directions.

The volcano erupting is also close the Virunga National Park, home to some of the last mountain gorillas in the world.

Earlier, Communications Minister Patrick Muyay said on Twitter that the government was discussing "urgent measures" after the prime minister convened an emergency meeting in the capital, Kinshasa.

"Besides the lava flow in the north east (Kibumba / Rwanda), the flow is also descending on the town".

"There is a smell of sulphur".

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi stated he would be returning home on Sunday from Europe earlier than meant to assist correlative relief works.

The Nyiragongo explosion last erupted in 2002, killing 250 people and displacing 120,000 After the lava hit Goma.

"At least 3,000 people from Goma, in DRC, have already crossed to Rwanda", the public broadcaster the Rwanda Broadcast Agency tweeted citing the latest figures from Rwanda immigration authorities at the Rwanda-DRC border. Nearly all of the eastern part of Goma is covered in lava, including half of the airport runway.

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The eruption of the volcano is similar to what it was in 2002, according to the National Park authorities, and demanded that residents near the airport vacate the place immediately.

Some headed out of the southern end of the city towards the nearby border post with Rwanda, while others headed west towards Sake, in the neighbouring Congolese region of Masisi.

At this stage, he said, "the other districts of the city were not in danger" as the lava was unlikely to reach those areas.

People tried to douse the flames as the lava flowed, engulfing parts of the city and roads.

Another Goma resident said two aircraft had taken off from Goma's airport that evening, when normally there are no night-time flights.

The previous eruption of Nyiragongo volcano, which is over 3000 meters high, dates back to January 17, 2002.

In a May 10 report, the Goma Vulcanology Observatory warned that seismic activity around the volcano had increased and warranted careful monitoring.

Volcanologists at the Goma Volcano Observatory (OVG), which monitors Nyiragongo, have struggled to make basic checks since the World Bank cut funding amid embezzlement allegations.

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