Mount Nyiragongo: DR Congo city of Goma empties as thousands flee erupting volcano

Mount Nyiragongo: DR Congo city of Goma empties as thousands flee erupting volcano

23 May 2021 12:47 pm

Thousands of people have fled the city of Goma, many heading for the Rwandan border

DR Congo's Mount Nyiragongo has erupted for the first time in nearly two decades.

Many thousands of people have fled the city of Goma, some heading for its highest point Mount Goma.

Others headed for the nearby Rwandan border, with authorities there saying that around 3,000 people had already crossed over on Saturday night.

Goma resident Zacharie Paluku told The Associated Press: "Everyone is afraid, people are running away. We really don't know what to do."

There was a government evacuation plan but it came hours after the sky had turned a fiery red and power had been cut to the city.

Lava from the eruption flowed on to a major road on Saturday as it reached the airport on the city's edge, according to a volcanologist based there.

Many people fled the city before the government activated its evacuation plan, worried by the bright red the sky

Dario Tedesco told Reuters that new fractures were opening in Nyiragongo, allowing the lava to flow southward towards Goma after initially flowing east toward Rwanda.

"Now Goma is the target," Mr Tedesco said, adding: "It's similar to 2002."

Nyiragongo's last eruption was in 2002 and it left hundreds of people dead, and coated airport runways with lava.

"I think that the lava is going towards the city centre," Mr Tedesco said.

The sky over Goma in Congo has turned a fiery red due to the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo

"It might stop before or go on. It's difficult to forecast."

No casualties have been confirmed as a result of the eruption so far.

Goma is a base for UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO and it was reported that the organisation's aircraft had been moved to nearby cities.

The volcanic eruption has sent lava into the air and across at least one major road

Nyiragongo is one of the world's most active volcanoes and is considered among the most dangerous.

There had been concern about the amount of volcanic activity observed in the last five years at Nyiragongo but experts at Goma Volcano Observatory have not been able to check things regularly due to funding issues.

Sky News