Nyiragongo volcano erupts in Congo, triggering evacuation as panicked residents scramble to flee to Rwanda (VIDEOS)
Mount Nyiragongo near the Congolese city of Goma has erupted, sending flames into the sky and spreading a strong smell of sulfur in the vicinity. The government has activated an evacuation plan for the city.
The volcano began erupting around 7:00pm local time on Saturday. Footage shared online shows Nyiragongo spitting smoke and fire into the air, turning the night skies red.
#RDC: Les images qui nous viennent de #Goma. Pour le moment, aucune précision du côté des autorités...d'autres sources évoquent une forte intensité du volcan à partir de Nyiragongo pic.twitter.com/2kvcVkICTI— Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala (@StanysBujakera) May 22, 2021
🚨🚨Activité volcanique aux alentours de Goma: la MONUSCO fait des vols de reconnaissance. La lave ne semble pas se diriger vers la ville de Goma. Nous restons en alerte. pic.twitter.com/JQmz7v16Ne— MONUSCO (@MONUSCO) May 22, 2021
It is located 10km (6 miles) north of Goma, a city of 670,000 people, which is only 1km from the Rwandan border.
The eruption caused panic among residents, who rushed to flee to safety to neighboring Rwanda, many on foot. Videos and photos show people, including children, purportedly walking towards the border carrying their belongings.
#DRC Eastern Congo - thousands of people fleeing the city of Goma heading across the border into #Rwanda - Mt Nyiragongo volcano erupted earlier this evening threatening Goma a city of over half a million people - in 2002 the volcano destroyed almost half of the city pic.twitter.com/lO4Rk8W4Tl— Evelyn Tremble (@DrumChronicles) May 22, 2021
Rwanda’s public broadcaster reported that more than 3,000 refugees have already crossed the border.
At least 3000 people from Goma, in DRC, have already crossed to Rwanda fleeing the #Nyiragogo eruption, according to the latest figures from Rwanda immigration authorities at the Rwanda-DRC border #RBANews#NyiragongoEruptspic.twitter.com/KbdK6URBkb— Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) (@rbarwanda) May 22, 2021
School, churches, and other facilities will house those fleeing the calamity, Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) said.
There have been reports of lava rapidly moving toward the city, and that lava flows were about to reach the Goma International Airport.
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo announced an evacuation of the city. Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya tweeted that the government was “discussing... urgent measures” to deal with the situation. As the residents scrambled to evacuate, power outages were reported across Goma.
The last eruption of the volcano, which is one of the world’s most active, claimed 250 lives in 2002, leaving tens of thousands homeless.
Nyiragongo’s deadliest eruption took place in 1977. At the time, flows of lava swept through the city at speeds of up to 60kph (37mph). The death toll from that eruption is unknown. AFP reported that more than 600 people were killed at the time.
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