(Goma) Lava flow descending from the sides of Nyiragongo Volcano, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, settled on Sunday in the outskirts of Goma, sparing the city with difficulty, as residents gradually returned, among them were particularly worried about many earthquakes.
“Most of the people have returned or are returning home,” said one resident, after thousands of fleeing the eruption overnight. They carefully watch the mountain towering above the city, with no noticeable activity seen in the evening.
But there are still victims who no longer have homes. They lost everything, and remained there, in families, stuck in front of the shops along the roads, and they are very many, and hundreds of people … “, according to this witness.
As night fell, hundreds of them were preparing to spend the night on the street, on mattresses that they carried on their journey, clustered together in places according to family, village, or kinship. Apparently without humanitarian aid.
A strong delegation of several ministers from Kinshasa is expected to be dispatched late this evening in Goma, according to government spokesman Patrick Moyaya.
After two emergency meetings of the government, which is “monitoring the situation closely,” he promised “more active action.” He told the press on Sunday evening that “the urgent necessity at the present time is to provide assistance to the displaced population,” announcing that he had passed the return of President Felix Tshisekedi to Kinshasa, who had cut short a European tour.
The massive lava flow halted its advance from Saturday night to Sunday in the suburb of Bohin, which marks the northeastern border of Goma.
The military governor of the province, General Konstant Ndima, declared in the morning that “the city escaped”.
Numerous dwellings were flooded with stony and black lava, several hundred meters wide, like huge licorice gum that swallows up everything in its path.
The unfortunate people, whose homes were partially submerged under the lava, tried all day to restore some of the meager traces, spraying with a simple basin of water the burning rocks surrounding the plots of land.
‘Homes are moving’
Piles of kiln-twisted sheets of metal littered here and there still smoky rocks stretched out as far as I could see. The lava stopped a short distance from the Goma airport.
On Sunday evening, a government spokesman said that 15 people were killed, nine wounded, two burned, and four prisoners killed as they tried to escape.
In total, 17 villages, the main road connecting Goma to the north of the governorate, were damaged, and the high-voltage line was cut off, according to Mr. Miaia, who expressed his regret for “the great loss of goods and goods.”
According to UNICEF, “more than 150 children have been separated from their families and more than 170 others are feared missing.”
Residents of the neighborhoods “in the red zone,” that is, close to the lava flow in north-eastern Goma, were not allowed to return.
Throughout the day, the streets of Goma regained the usual animation, and residents watched the volcano. But the earthquakes, which were so powerful at times, shook the city at regular intervals, multiplying at an alarming rate in the afternoon and early evening. Many of these tremors were felt as far as Kigali, the capital of neighboring Rwanda.
“This creates psychosis in the population, it is big shocks, even the solid houses move,” a witness said.
The eruption on the side of Nyiragongo volcano on Saturday evening surprised everyone, including the authorities, who were forced to order the evacuation of the city.
Tens of thousands of people fled to a nearby border point with Rwanda, south of Goma or the southwest, towards the Masisi region.
The previous large eruption of Nyiragongo volcano, on January 17, 2002, killed nearly 100 people. Saturday’s eruption resembles in many ways the scenario 19 years ago.
As in 2002
Samedi soir, deux coulées de lave sont descendues, l’une vers l’est, dans des zones habitées, mais non urbaines, vers la frontière toute proche avec le rwanda, et l’autre vers le sud, pour atteindre la limite de Goma At night.
According to a source in the United Nations, citing a volcanologist, this weekend’s eruption “is exactly the same as 2002”: “There is no warning sign, only the lava in the crater emptied.”
The Goma region is an area of intense volcanic activity, with six volcanoes, including Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira which have elevations of 3,470 and 3,058 meters respectively.
The deadliest eruption at Nyiragongo in 1977 killed more than 600 people.
Nyiragongo was not monitored for seven months, due to a lack of government funding and budget to support the local volcanology observatory, according to the organization’s director.