Tens of thousands of people are evacuating the city of Goma in eastern Congo for fear of another volcanic eruption by Mount Nyiragongo.
The military governor of Congo’s North Kivu province, Lt. Gen. Constat Ndima Kongba, ordered the evacuation of 10 of 18 neighborhoods, saying an eruption could occur at any time.
While the main city of Goma was previously spared, it is now under threat, with activity being reported under the urban area and Lake Kivu, Kongba said.
“Based on these scientific observations, we cannot currently rule out an eruption on land or under the lake. And this could happen with very little (or no) warning,” he said. An eruption under Lake Kivu could also have harmful consequences by leading to the explosion of gas in the lake, which could destroy parts of Goma and Gisenyi in neighboring Rwanda.
Residents were advised to carry very little, that they could not return to their homes until advised by authorities and that vehicles will be provided to help with the evacuation.
With little warning Mount Nyiragongo turned the dark sky fiery red Saturday night and then spewed torrents of lava into villages destroying more than 500 homes and resulting in the deaths of more than 32 people over days, officials said.
Mount Nyiragongo’s last eruption was in 2002, leaving hundreds dead. The lava coated the airport runways and also left more than 100,000 homeless in the aftermath. It also erupted in 1977, killing more than 600 people.