Eruption of Mount Nyaragongo volcano east of Democratic Republic of Congo Created panic in public As part of the lava flow that rolled towards the city of Goma, thousands of people left their homes and fled towards the nearby border with Rwanda.
The active volcano is located in Virunga National Park, about 20 kilometers north of the city of Goma and thus also near the border with Rwanda. The volcano erupted around 7 pm local time (CEST 8 pm) on Saturday evening. Lava flows are currently flowing mainly from parts of the national park, Goma Volcano Observatory Director Celestin Mahinda told state radio station RTNC. The park is Africa’s most biodiversity reserve and home to endangered mountain gorillas.
According to the Mahindas a part of the lava flow is also moving towards Goma. The glowing red lava has already reached the city’s airport. It is uncertain whether the lava mass may enter the city center or stop beforehand, says volcanologist Dario Tedesco of the Reuters news agency. New cracks opened up in the volcano.
Panic spread to about 2 million residents of Goma on Saturday evening. Thousands fled to the border in neighboring Rwanda, where they were initially intercepted. It was only later that the authorities of the neighboring country opened the border and allowed the refugees to leave. In Goma, riots erupted in the central prison during the night as prisoners were in danger of their lives after the volcanic eruption. A DPA reporter said that many shots could be heard from the building complex.
Mount Nyaragongo was last torn in 2002. At that time more than a hundred people were killed and almost all the eastern part of Goma was covered with lava, including half of the runway at Goma Airport. The Nyaragongo eruption occurred in 1977 with the most serious consequences ever, when more than 600 people were killed. Situated on the border of Rwanda and Uganda, the area has a total of six volcanoes over 3000 meters high.
Goma in North Kivu province is home to an important base for the UN’s blue helmet. Many international organizations and non-governmental organizations also operate from there.