Lava stops short of Goma in DRC after volcanic eruption

Moses Sawasawa Some headed towards Rwanda

Moses Sawasawa Some headed towards Rwanda

Goma-based volcanologist Dario Tedesco initially told Reuters news agency that the city did not appear to be at risk, but later Saturday a second fracture opened in the volcano, allowing lava to flow towards Goma.

The volcano erupting is also close the Virunga National Park, home to some of the last mountain gorillas in the world.

Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde convened an emergency meeting in the capital, Kinshasa, where the government activated an evacuation plan for Goma. An eruption has been confirmed, but lava is now flowing towards Rwanda.

The volcano last erupted in 2002, with some 250 people losing their lives and lava destroying approximately one-fifth of city, including airport runways.

Residents reported the smell of sulphur in the air and watched as the sky turned red.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi is returning from Europe to oversee the relief efforts and is closely monitoring the security and humanitarian situation in the country's eastern North Kivu province, the presidency said.

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Some headed out of the southern end of the city towards the nearby border post with Rwanda, while others headed west towards Sake, in the neighbouring Congolese region of Masisi. Rwandan state media said they would be lodged in schools and places of worship. Nearly all of the eastern part of Goma is covered in lava, including half of the airport runway.

Others fled to the city centre from villages and neighbourhoods threatened by lava on the northern outskirts.

As the red glow of Mount Nyiragongo tinged the night sky above the lakeside city of about 2 million, thousands of Goma residents carrying mattresses and other belongings fled the city on foot - many toward the frontier with Rwanda. Electricity was out across large areas, and one highway that connects Goma with the city of Beni had already been engulfed by the lava.

Resident Richard Bahati said he was incredibly anxious about the eruption: "I lived through this volcano problem in 2002".

Another Goma resident said two aircraft had taken off from Goma's airport that evening, when normally there are no night-time flights.

Volcanologists at the Goma Volcano Observatory (OVG), which monitors Nyiragongo, have struggled to make basic checks since the World Bank cut funding amid embezzlement allegations.

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