Volcanic eruption from Mount Nyiragongo in Goma Republic of Congo
A volcanic eruption in the lakeside city of Goma, in the Republic of Congo triggered an exodus on Saturday night.
Thousands of residents carrying mattresses and other belongings fled the city on foot – many toward the frontier with Rwanda.
Government also told the 2 million people living in the city to evacuate.
According to reports, lava from the eruption has approached the airport as the red glow of Mount Nyiragongo tinged the night sky above the city.
Nyiragongo’s last eruption in 2002 killed 250 people and left 120,000 homeless.
It is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is considered among the most dangerous.
Rwanda’s Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management said more than 3,500 Congolese have crossed the border. Rwandan state media said they would be lodged in schools and places of worship.
New fractures were opening in the volcano, letting lava flow south toward the city after initially flowing east toward Rwanda, said Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist based in Goma.
“Now Goma is the target,” Tedesco told Reuters. “It’s similar to 2002. I think that the lava is going towards the city centre.”
“It might stop before or go on. It’s difficult to forecast,” he said.
Emmanuel De Merode, head of Virunga National Park, asked park employees in parts of Goma to evacuate, according a note seen by Reuters.
He said lava had reached the international airport on the eastern edge of the city but that it was not likely to reach other parts of Goma.
Celestin Kasereka, head of scientific research at the Goma Volcano Observatory (OVG), told reporters he did not think the lava was flowing fast enough to reach Goma.