The military governor of the region says the lava flow stopped on the outskirts of the eastern city while thousands of residents evacuated Goma.
A river of boiling lava from the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo has stopped outside Goma, saving the city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the region’s military governor said on Sunday.
After a volcanic eruption which sent thousands fleeing overnight, “lava stopped near Buhene on the outskirts of Goma … the city was saved,” said General Constant Ndima, adding that according to a provisional estimate, “five people died” in related accidents.
On Saturday, thousands fled overnight and many families slept on pavements surrounded by their belongings under a night sky that turned red from fire and smoke.
Officials said the lava had reached Goma airport, although residents said it had stopped at the edge of the facility.
Goma looked relatively calm when dawn broke, but people said they were still wary.
“It simply came to our notice then. In the distance you can see giant flames coming out of the mountain, “Carine Mbala, a resident of the city, told AFP news agency.
On Saturday, Communications Minister Patrick Muyaya said the government had activated an evacuation plan and was “discussing urgent measures that should be taken at present”.
By early Sunday, between 5,000 and 7,000 people had arrived in neighboring Rwanda, according to the country’s national broadcaster.
The Rwanda Broadcasting Agency has tweeted photos of those arriving in Rubavu district, but said early on Sunday that the evacuees had already started marching home.
“For now, Congolese who had evacuated to Rwanda due to the Nyiragongo volcanic eruption are returning to their homeland. It looks like the eruption has stopped,” he tweeted.
The first departures from Goma came even before official confirmation that Mount Nyiragongo had exploded at approximately 7pm on Saturday.
Power no longer existed in large parts of the city when hundreds of residents began to leave their homes.
Some headed to the southern end of the city to the nearby border site with Rwanda, while others headed west to Sake, in the neighboring Congolese region of Masisi.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said he was “interrupting his stay in Europe to return home this Sunday to oversee aid coordination.”
In a May 10 report, the Rubber Volcanology Observatory warned that seismic activity around the volcano had increased and warranted careful monitoring.
The last time Nyiragongo exploded was on January 17, 2002, killing 250 people, displacing 120,000 more and covering almost the entire eastern part of Lava Rubber, including half of the runway. the airport.
During that eruption, the victims were almost sick or elderly people abandoned at their destination in the northern districts of the city, with some looting.