The Nyiragongo volcano in Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), erupted suddenly on Saturday (22) at 7 pm local time. An airport in the city was hit by lavas earlier this Sunday (23).
Goma is on the south face of the volcano and overlooks Lake Kivu. The region of Goma, located in the province of North Kivu, bordering Rwanda and Uganda, has six volcanoes, all of which are over 3,000 meters high.
An internal document from the UN mission in Monusco detailed that a military helicopter “made a reconnaissance flight across the region and confirmed the eruption. The lava river, however, is heading for Rwanda. The city of Goma and its surroundings are saved”.
“It is something we have never seen before. We study and people talk about the volcano, but we never really saw it. We are shaking,” said student Aline Kanyere.
Before the official warning, an AFP journalist noticed strong red flames emanating from the volcano on the shores of Lake Kivu.
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“The sky has turned red. In the distance, giant flames are observed. But it does not flicker. The sirens have not been triggered,” resident Carine Mbala told AFP by telephone. The power supply was interrupted in the city.
The residents of Goma, frightened, grabbed mattresses and other belongings and fled towards the border with Rwanda when they saw the force of the volcano illuminating the city’s veil with red and black smoke.
The last time Nyiragongo erupted was in 2002, having killed 250 people and left 120,000 homeless in Goma.
Volcano watchers fear that the volcanic activity observed in the past five years will be similar to that of the years before the 1977 and 2002 eruptions.
Volcanologists at the Goma Volcanic Observatory, which monitors Nyiragongo, have been struggling to carry out basic checks since the World Bank cut funding amid allegations of corruption.