Photo Credit: Aaron Thomas
Democratic Republic Of Congo's Mt. Nyiragongo Erupts, Thousands To Flee
Flights at Goma’s airport were paused, and local gas stations were asked to shut down lines, to prevent possible explosions. People were seen fleeing on foot carrying any personal belongings they could gather.
“Panic spread as we were in contact with the residents of the north of the city who from their roofs could see the path of the lava as it made its way to the airport,” said Patient Iraguha, a resident of Rwanda who works in Goma. “Information was circulating in all directions. During this time no official statement dictated any instructions, and nothing came out on the radio like on national television to give the right information on the direction of the lava and the escape route to take.”
Mt. Nyiragongo last erupted in 2002, and before that in 1977. The eruption caused the entire sky to turn bright red and volcanic rock could be seen falling from the sky into neighborhoods. Some photos even showed neighborhoods completely engulfed in flames as residents attempted to put them out.
As of Sunday, the lava flow was said to have slowed tremendously. No deaths or major injuries have been reported. Photos also began to circulate of DRC nationals sleeping on sidewalks with their belongings, once they arrived in Rwanda. Many of those people are now returning across the border to DRC.
“The evacuation plan targeting the vulnerable such as the elderly and people with disabilities is under way,” General Constant Ndima said. “The lava flow has reduced, but we are continuing to assess the situation.”
In 1977, Mt. Nyiragongo claimed 2,000 lives. According to volcanologist Dario Tedesco, it is the most dangerous volcano in the world.