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28 May, 2021 12:16

Goma almost deserted as thousands flee on foot after scientists warn of catastrophic ‘limnic eruption’ (VIDEOS)

Goma almost deserted as thousands flee on foot after scientists warn of catastrophic ‘limnic eruption’ (VIDEOS)

Thousands have fled the Congolese city of Goma after the region’s military governor ordered a partial evacuation and scientists warn of a potentially catastrophic limnic eruption, which could smother the area with deadly gas.

On Friday morning, Goma, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, was almost deserted, with shops closed and just a handful of people on the streets.

Ndima Kongba, the military governor of North Kivu province, ordered the evacuation of the city of 600,000 people on Thursday amid fears of further volcanic activity after Saturday’s eruption.

Heart-breaking images have been shared online, showing that many people have been forced to flee on foot, carrying as much of their belongings as possible with them. 

The city’s infrastructure was also brought to a standstill, with hundreds of thousands trying to escape as quickly as possible, including hundreds of UN personnel and their dependents. 

The road to Sake, where much of the city has been evacuated to, appeared gridlocked in both directions, with cars, minibuses and people on foot caught up in the chaos.  

Other videos show people scrambling to board a boat to take them further away from the volcano. Local media says that many people who had turned up at the Etoile du Kivu port were without documents or money for their fare. Those in charge of the port said they were obliged to take the undocumented passengers for humanitarian reasons.  

Scientists monitoring the volcano have warned of a potentially catastrophic limnic eruption, also known as a lake overturn, which could see deadly, invisible gases released from Lake Kivu, suffocating people and livestock with carbon dioxide.

This type of natural disaster is rare but can be very deadly. It struck Cameroon in 1986, when Lake Nyos overturned, killing nearly 1,800 people and thousands of cattle. 

Also on rt.com Congo orders Goma exodus as governor says another eruption on land or under Lake Kivu could occur without warning

On Thursday, Kongba said that scientists thought large magma deposits had formed under the city and parts of Lake Kivu, indicating an eruption might occur on land or under the lake without warning. The city has been battered with earthquakes: Mount Nyiragongo erupted again last week. 

Nyiragongo, Africa's most active volcano, erupted on Saturday, leaving 32 people dead and many villages destroyed.

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