Lava flow stopped from Nyiragongo volcano in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on the outskirts of Goma. Virunga pilot Anthony Kerry decided this morning. Strong fire and fumes still came from the rocky lava façade. “It’s a drama for Goma,” says Kyrie, who flew over the volcano.
HLA, KV, JV
Bilga, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Special Reports
Nyiragongo volcano, about 10 kilometers from the eastern city of Goma, erupted on Saturday night. The lava has reached the Goma airport on the outskirts of the city. The volcano emitted lava and smoke. Many people fled. The Congolese government ordered the evacuation of Goma. The lava flow halted its advance overnight, stopping in the northeastern suburbs of the city. The Goma airport, a few hundred meters away, has escaped. Strong fire and fumes still came from the rocky lava façade. Dozens of curious people came to take a look.
Flemish western pilot Anthony Caery of Virungapark in the Congo flew over the volcano by himself. “It’s a drama here,” he told our editorial team. “One of the lava flows stopped 500 meters from the airport. The other flooded the main road to Rwanda. All high-voltage lines in our hydroelectric plant to supply Goma were closed.”
The military governor of North Kivu confirmed “the eruption of Nyiragongo volcano on May 22nd from about 7 pm”. And the military governor called, in a message broadcast by local radio stations, to remain calm. “The investigation is underway and the residents must follow the Civil Protection guidelines,” she added. “We will provide residents with more information about safe places.”
Meanwhile, many of the people who had panicked on Saturday night have now returned home. Others will remain outside the city for now, pending directions from the government. They wonder if the eruption is over, or if the lava will flow from the volcano again.
It was previously reported that most of the lava would flow east – into Rwanda, but a second crack in the volcano opened up, causing the lava to flow south toward Goma. Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist from the area, reported this to Reuters and confirmed pilot Anthony Caery. Thousands of people are fleeing, by car or on foot.
Electricity is cut off in a large part of the city of two million people. A government spokesperson also confirmed on Twitter that the evacuation order was in effect. What this means exactly is not yet known.
In eastern Congo, the situation has been unstable for a long time due to armed gangs moving around and fighting for control of raw materials.
The previous eruption of Nyiragongo volcano, which is over 3000 meters high, dates back to January 17, 2002. It killed more than a hundred people. Almost all of the eastern part of Goma is covered in lava, including half of the airport runway.
The deadliest explosion occurred in 1977, when over 600 people were killed.
Goma is located in an area of six volcanoes, the highest of which is Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira.
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