Residents flee as volcano erupts in Congo, lava engulfs major highway

Yolanda Curtis
May 25, 2021

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi had said he would "interrupt his stay in Europe to return home this Sunday to supervise the coordination of aid".

"President Tshisekedi has made a decision to interrupt his stay in Europe to return home this Sunday in order to supervise the coordination of aid to populations in areas threatened by this volcanic eruption", according to a tweeted statement, released on the president's official account.

Lava from a volcano that erupted in Democratic Republic of Congo is reaching the airport in Goma, a volcanologist said on Saturday as the government activated plans to evacuate the city.

The Reuters reporter said the lava flow had stopped short of Goma's airport and the city limits but that surrounding villages were hit.

"The sky has turned red", one resident, Carine Mbala, told AFP by telephone.

Emmanuel De Merode, head of Virunga National Park, asked park employees in parts of Goma to evacuate, according a note seen by Reuters. "I think that the lava is going towards the city centre".

The first departures from the city came even before the official confirmation that Mount Nyiragongo had erupted at around 7pm (local) Saturday, spewing red fumes into the night sky.

Others fled to Mount Goma, the highest point in the metropolitan area.

- "I'm scared again" -Power was already cut in large parts of the city when hundreds of residents began leaving their homes.

The night sky a glowing red and emitting lava onto the main highway as panicked residents adjudicated to leave Goma, a city of almost 2 million.

"There are a lot of people on the road, a lot of cars, it's an escape", one man with his family in his auto told AFP.

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

Volcano watchers fear that the volcanic activity observed in the past five years will be similar to the years prior to the 1977 and 2002 eruptions.

Lava crossed a main road out of Goma, cutting if off from cities to the north.

Earlier this year, researchers working at the Goma Volcano Observatory reported signals that an eruption might be on the way.

During that eruption, the victims were mostly sick or elderly abandoned to their fate in the northern districts of the city with some looting also taking place.

Other reports by iNewsToday