Exodus as Congo city residents scarper to avoid deadly Mount Nyiragongo volcano
Following the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in Congo last Saturday tens of thousands fled Goma by car, foot and boat in the wake of fears of another pyroclastic flow from one of the world’s most dangerous active volcanoes.
Benoît Smets, a geological hazards expert from the Royal Museum for Central Africa working with a team in the Goma Volcano Observatory warned of a potentially huge risk of disaster after last Saturday’s eruption came without any warning.
After the first eruption on Saturday thousands fled with their belongings on foot, some towards the nearby border with Rwanda. By Sunday morning, the flow of lava had left devastation of homes, roads and everything else in its path.
After a series of tremors and rumbling from the volcano, Democratic Republic of Congo authorities declared a state of emergency overnight, ordering that over 1 million inhabitants evacuate the densely populated City of Goma after more than 32 died in last week’s eruption.
Many others flocked to the port at nearby on Lake Kivu seeking to escape the disaster by ferry.
The flow of lava nearly reached the City centre and Goma International Airport.
The man in the video, from a local village, says he woke up and saw the red sky and lava. He, along with other residents fled and are looking for shelter in Goma. As the sun rose last Sunday, much of the hillside to the north of the town was burned black and houses had been demolished.
Lava crossed a main road out of Goma, cutting if off from cities to the north. Traffic was in gridlock in most places as people tried to leave or return to assess the damage to their homes.
The local resident in the video, who did not give his name, said the government must figure out how to reopen this road so that residents can travel between Goman and Rwanda.
Saturday’s eruption appears to have been caused when fractures opened in the volcano’s side, causing lava flows in various directions.
Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist from Sicily’s Luigi Vanvitelli University, Campania said the volcano is the most dangerous in the world, located just 8-miles from the densely populated Goma City centre.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Patrick Muyaya, Goma’s government communications minister said that scientists “do not have a clear answer to what is going on” and that “Goma faces four types of risks: accentuation of earthquakes, a new volcanic eruption, explosion of gas pockets under the lake, and the toxicity of the ambient environment,”
Nyiragongo’s previous eruption in 2002 killed 250 people and left 120,000 homeless.