News ID: 303310
Published: 0220 GMT May 23, 2021

Congo volcano leaves smoldering wreckage but major city spared

Congo volcano leaves smoldering wreckage but major city spared

A smoking trail of lava from a volcanic eruption covered hundreds of houses in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, leaving residents to pick gingerly through the wreckage, though the flow halted just short of the major city of Goma.

Goma was thrown into panic on Saturday evening as Mount Nyiragongo erupted, turning the night sky an eerie red and sending a wall of orange lava downhill toward the lakeside city of about two million people. Thousands fled on foot with their belonging, some towards the nearby border with Rwanda, Reuters reported.

As the sun rose on Sunday a smoldering black gash could be seen on the outskirts of Goma, where the lava had cooled to rubble. At some points it was engulfing even large buildings and sending smoke into the gray morning sky.

Residents in the Buhene district sorted through the mangled white remains of tin roofs or lifted rocks – tiny individual efforts in what will likely be a months-long campaign to restore the zone. Elsewhere, groups of people posed for photos on the steaming lava.

It was not immediately clear if anyone had died, or how widespread the material damage was.

"We hope that in time this will end. And by God's grace it is over," said one resident in Kibati, about 15km (nine miles) north of Goma.

Nyiragongo's previous 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. Saturday's eruption appears to have been caused when fractures opened in the volcano's side, causing lava flows in various directions.

The flow toward Goma appeared to have stopped a few hundred meters from the city limits. The nearby airport was untouched.

A separate lava flow that headed east over unpopulated terrain toward Rwanda also appeared to have stopped, the reporter said.

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.

"Local authorities who have been monitoring the eruption overnight report that the lava flow has lost intensity," government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said on Twitter on Sunday.

Experts were worried that the volcanic activity observed in the past five years at Nyiragongo mirrors that in the years preceding eruptions in 1977 and 2002.



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