Tense calm reigns in the partially evacuated city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano. Tens of thousands of people who fled in fear of another volcano eruption were forced to spend the night in the open air. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates the number of refugees at around 400,000, of whom nearly 280,000 are children.
Emergency care is rarely found yet, so some people have returned to their city. Official information on the status of the volcano’s seismic activity was initially not available on Friday.
The military governor of North Kivu ordered the evacuation of ten areas from the city on Thursday morning and justified this with scientific data indicating the renewed eruption of the volcano. There is also a risk that the hot lava at the bottom of Lake Kivu could release toxic gases. As a result, strong movements of people fleeing to neighboring cities and communities began.
After the volcano erupted on May 22, residents left their homes in panic and some fled across the border into neighboring Rwanda. Part of the lava had rolled towards Goma, but then stopped 300 meters from the border city airport.
The volcano is located in Virunga National Park, about 20 kilometers north of Goma. Mount Nyiragongo last erupted in 2002, killing about 250 people at that time and displacing 120,000.