Congo: volcanic eruption causes panic – thousands fleeing to Rwanda



Menacing scenes after the eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano (3470 meters) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: The lava flow slowly rolled towards the megacity of Goma: Panic broke out at times among the almost two million inhabitants.

Thousands left their homes and fled towards neighboring Rwanda, where they were initially stopped. Only later did the authorities in the neighboring country open the border and let the refugees pass.

The active volcano is located in the Virunga National Park, just under 20 kilometers north of the city of Goma and therefore close to the border with Rwanda. The volcano erupted on Saturday evening around 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. CEST).

Lava flows are currently mainly flowing through parts of the national park, Goma volcanological observatory director Celestin Mahinda told state radio station RTNC. The park is Africa’s most biodiverse reserve and home to the endangered mountain gorillas.

According to Mahindas, part of the lava flow is also moving in the direction of Goma. Among other things, the lava flow threatened to reach the international airport there.

In Goma, riots broke out in the central prison during the night, as prisoners evidently feared for their lives after the volcanic eruption. Several shots could be heard from the building complex, as a dpa reporter reported.

Mount Nyiragongo last erupted in 2002. Back then, lava destroyed large parts of Goma. Around 250 people were killed in the outbreak and 120,000 more were left homeless.

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