Congo Volcanic Eruption Leaves Two Dead as Thousands Flee

The volcano eruption in eastern Congo over the weekend killed two people and led to significant damage in 17 villages.

The lava flowed from Mount Nyiragongo toward Goma and stopped less than a mile from the city’s airport at around 4 a.m. local time, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said. An evacuation order remains in effect for parts of the region, and local volcanologists are monitoring the situation, he said.

“It’s essential to ensure that people are protected,” Muyaya said in a press conference in Kinshasa, Congo’s capital, that was broadcast on his ministry’s Twitter account. “The volcano is still active, there are fissures in the city and today there has been seismic activity.”

Nyiragongo’s last major eruption was in 2002, when lava flowed through Goma’s streets into Lake Kivu along Rwanda’s border. More than 100,000 people were left homeless.

Five thousand people fled to Rwanda overnight, and another 25,000 were displaced south of Goma, the United Nations Children’s Fund said today in an emailed statement.

“More than 170 children are feared to be missing as people fled,” UNICEF said. Nine people died in a car accident while fleeing, Muyaya said. Multiple people have been injured, and four prisoners in a local prison were also killed trying to escape, he said.

Goma is under martial law through early next month as the government tries to gain control of armed conflicts in eastern Congo that have plagued the region for more than 20 years.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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