Congo alert for possible eruption of Niragongo volcano

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Nearly 400,000 people have been evacuated from Goma, on the eastern side of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where a new eruption of the Niragongo volcano continues to cause fear, local authorities said today.

“80,000 households, that is, almost 400,000 inhabitants, were evacuated from the city of Goma yesterday, Thursday,” said the minutes of the emergency meeting held this morning on the state of the volcano.

According to the APE – MPE on Thursday, in a sudden exit, tens of thousands of people left Goma, the capital of the province of North Kivu overlooking the imposing black slopes of Niragongo, after the “precautionary” and “mandatory” evacuation order due to of the risk of a new explosion.

A first explosion without any warning sign took place last Saturday, already causing the residents to flee, many of whom returned the next day. At least 32 people lost their lives, 900 to 2,500 homes were destroyed, leaving almost 20,000 homeless or displaced.

“Two accidents caused the death of two people” during the evacuation on Thursday, according to the minutes, increasing to 34 the death toll in a week.

“People are starting to settle on the sites, which will make it easier for the government and humanitarian workers to help,” the North Kivu authorities said.

The aid will be organized around “the provision of drinking water, health care, aid and food and non-food, as well as the issue of unaccompanied children” who were separated from their families, he explained.

The evacuation measure “remains in force”, while “we can not yet rule out an explosion on the ground or under the lake”, which “could happen with minimal, perhaps without any warning signs”.

“Seismicity and deformation of the ground continue to show the presence of magma below the Goma area, with an extension below Lake Kivu.” The “lava exit point is not predictable at the moment”.

The population must “stay away from lava flows”, must “stay vigilant and listen to the news being broadcast”, as the situation “can evolve quickly”.

The evacuation order, announced at dawn, surprised the population who then rushed to the city exits, frightened and in the midst of panic and chaos.

The evacuation theoretically affected 10 of the 18 districts of Goma – with a population of two million – but in fact almost all of the inhabitants took refuge on three main axes – Sake in the west, Rwanda in the east, northeast – as well as by boat on the lake.

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