Congo's Mount Nyiragongo erupted for the first time in almost two decades Saturday, turning the night sky a fiery red and sending lava onto a major highway as panicked residents tried to flee Goma, a city of almost 2 million. He added that already, there are humanitarian groups on the ground working to help people who have lost their homes.
The last time Nyiragongo erupted was January 17, 2002, killing more than a hundred people and covering nearly all of the eastern part of Goma with lava, including half of the airport's landing strip. I ran away and he got burned inside.
The eruption was caused when fractures opened in the volcano's side, causing lava flows in various directions.
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. "At the moment, we don't know".
A government delegation including seven ministers arrived from Kinshasa early on Monday, while President Felix Tshisekedi has cut short a European tour to supervise the aid operation.
Goma sits along the border between Congo and neighbouring Rwanda, and is a regional hub for many humanitarian agencies in the region, as well as the United Nations peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO.
"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.
The volcano's deadliest eruption happened in 1977, when more than 600 people died.
While it was unclear exactly how many households were impacted by the eruption, UNICEF said it is concerned about people returning to find destroyed or damaged homes and a lack of electricity or water. "We're waiting", said one man.
Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation associated with the Albertine rift.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission had said that it didn't appear the lava was flowing toward Goma based on reconnaissance flights, but untold thousands still set off in search of safety.
"The volcano had devastated all our homes and all our possessions". "Dad told us that the volcano was erupting and that we were going to go to Mount Goma to escape the lava of the volcano".
A general view shows civilians watching the smoke and flames of the volcanic eruption near Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo May 22, 2021.
Scientists at the Volcanic Observatory of Goma were not able to adequately warn the public of the eruption because of a funding cut, the observatory's scientific director of Celestin Kasereka Mahinda said.
Experts were anxious that the volcanic activity observed in the past five years at Nyiragongo mirrors that in the years preceding eruptions in 1977 and 2002.