As a result of a volcanic eruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at least 15 people have been killed and hundreds of houses destroyed, according to the government. However, the major city of Goma, which is only about ten kilometers from the Nyiragongo volcano, was largely spared. The lava flows came to a halt a few hundred meters from the airport and the city limits on Sunday, according to a Reuters reporter. However, authorities warned that the danger had not yet been averted.
Nyiragongo is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. After its eruption on Saturday evening, panic broke out in the city of two million inhabitants. Fearing the lava, thousands of people fled on foot with their belongings, some across the border into Rwanda. Authorities in the neighboring country opened the border Sunday night to let people pass. Lava blocked a major road linking Goma to towns to the north.
"Now the lava is flowing toward the city center, similar to the 2002 eruption," volcanologist Dario Tedesco said. Back then, 250 people died and about 120,000 were left homeless.
After the outbreak on Saturday, there was gridlock in and around Goma. Many people tried to leave the city or return to inspect any damage to their homes. According to government data, two people died as a result of burns and nine weitee in traffic accidents related to the panic following the outbreak.
There was unrest at the central prison in Goma as inmates apparently feared for their lives after the volcanic eruption. Shots were heard several times from the building complex, a dpa reporter reported. Four people were reportedly killed there.
The lava flowed mainly through parts of the national park, the head of the Goma Volcanological Observatory, Celestin Mahinda, told state radio station RTNC. The park is Africa's most biodiverse protected area and home to the endangered mountain gorillas.
Photo by Pierre-Yves Burgi