DR Congo orders Goma evacuation after Mount Nyiragongo erupts

TEHRAN, May 23 (MNA) – Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have urged residents of the eastern city of Goma to evacuate after a volcano overlooking the area erupted.

Lava from Mount Nyiragongo approached Goma’s airport late on Saturday, as thousands of residents carrying mattresses and other belongings fled the border city on foot – many towards the frontier with Rwanda, Aljazeera reported.

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.

“The evacuation plan for the city of Goma has been activated,” Communications Minister Patrick Muyaya tweeted late on Saturday. “The government is discussing the urgent measures to take at present.”

The plan was activated after an emergency meeting in Kinshasha, he added.

The presidency said President Felix Tshisekedi will cut short a trip to Europe to return to Congo on Sunday.

The military governor of North Kivu province, of which Goma is the capital, confirmed the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano at around 7:00 pm (17:00 GMT).

General Constant Ndima urged residents of Goma, a city of two million people that sits on Mount Nyiragongo’s southern flank and the north shore of Lake Kivu, to remain calm.
Earlier on Saturday, residents reported a strong smell of sulphur on the streets of the eastern town and a red glow filling up the sky above the city.

The lava initially flowed east towards Rwanda, said Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist based in Goma. But later in the night, new fractures opened in the volcano allowing lava to flow south towards Goma, he said.

“Now, Goma is the target,” Tedesco told the Reuters news agency. “It’s similar to 2002. I think that the lava is going towards the city center.”

“It might stop before or go on. It’s difficult to forecast,” he said.

INSO, which coordinates safety for non-governmental organizations, said in a note that the lava had cut off the main road that runs north from Goma.

RHM/PR

News Code 173809

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