For two days nearly seven thousand people were forced to massively evacuate their homes.
A river of boiling lava from the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo has come to a halt outside Goma, sparing the city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the military governor of the region said on Sunday. After a volcanic eruption that sent thousands fleeing during the night, “the lava halted near Buhene on the outskirts of Goma,” said General Constant Ndima, adding that, five people were killed in related accidents.
On Saturday, thousands fled during the night and many families slept on pavements surrounded by their belongings under a night sky turned red by fire and fumes. Officials said the lava had reached Goma city airport although residents said it had stopped at the edge of the facility. Goma appeared relatively calm as dawn broke, but people said they are still wary. “There is a smell of sulphur. In the distance you can see giant flames coming out of the mountain,” Carine Mbala, a resident of the city, told AFP news agency.
As the sky turned red and rivers of lava streamed from Mount Nyiragongo, there were concerns that its past deadly tragedies would be repeated. A mass evacuation was launched in the city of Goma, which has a population of about two million people. However, the city was largely spared and some residents are now returning.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said he would “interrupt his stay in Europe to return home this Sunday to supervise the coordination of aid”. In a May 10 report, the Goma Vulcanology Observatory warned that seismic activity around the volcano had increased and warranted careful monitoring. The volcano, located 10km from Goma, last erupted in 2002, killing 250 people and making 120,000 homeless.