While escaping from the blazing volcano, accidents occurred in which at least five people were killed.
The eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo caused panic and near-catastrophe in the city of Goma. After Nyiragongo spewed the lava on Saturday evening, thousands fled, some across the border, to neighboring Rwanda.
On Sunday, the authorities gave all the clarity: Goma has survived, and the lava flow in the suburbs has stopped. Tourists who were in the crater when it safely erupted, and the mountain gorillas in the surrounding National Park “are not threatened.”
According to Agence France-Presse correspondents, the lava flow stopped in the northeastern suburbs of Goma on Sunday evening. “The city has escaped,” said North Kivu Military Governor Constant Ndima.
More than 7,000 people fled to Rwanda
Lava had already arrived at Goma airport on Saturday evening and flights were canceled. The government ordered the evacuation of the city after the sudden volcanic eruption. Fear and panic gripped the population. According to Ndima, more than 7,000 people fled to Rwanda, and others fled to Masisi province. Many of them would have returned on Sunday.
Ndima said that during the escape from the volcano that spews out fires, accidents occurred, killing at least five people. Several robberies were reported in stores and one attempt by prisoners to escape from the city prison, but “the situation is under control”.
In the suburbs, smoke billowed from the still hot black lava field that was simply swallowed up by homes. Here and there piles of tin popped up. “This morning we saw that there was smoke hanging over the whole neighborhood, and the fire here came from Nyiragongo district,” said Irene Puma, a local resident.
At the time of the eruption, tourists were also in the crater. They are “safe and healthy”, the Congolese Institute for Conservation of Nature (ICCN) said. The authority manages the Virunga National Park where Nyiragongo is located. The International Pet Networks Network confirmed that the rare mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park are “not threatened”.
The last major eruption was in 2002
The eruption reminds us of the last major eruption of Nyiragongo volcano in 2002, when it killed more than a hundred people, and lava covered most of the eastern part of Goma, including half of the runway of Goma Airport.
The eruption of Nyiragongo volcano that had its most serious consequences so far occurred in 1977, when more than 600 people died. In the region bordering Rwanda and Uganda there are a total of six volcanoes over 3000 meters high.
Goma in North Kivu province is home to an important base of UN blue helmets. Several international organizations and NGOs also operate from there. A crisis meeting for the United Nations Mission in Monosco and associated authorities as well as international and national NGOs is scheduled to take place on Sunday to assess the situation.
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