Thousands Flee as Second DR Congo Volcanic Eruption Looms

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Tens of thousands of people have fled the Democratic Republic of Congo’s city of Goma after the government warned that a second eruption was imminent.

Tremors were felt more than 90km away in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

Ndima Kongba, the military governor of North Kivu province, mandated the evacuation of the area.

“Given these scientific observations, an eruption on land or under the lake cannot be ruled out at present, and it could occur with very little or no warning,” he said. “Evacuation is compulsory. Those who do not adhere swiftly carry unnecessary risks.”

Volcanologists in Goma explained that a volcanic eruption under the lake and a possible large earthquake could cause a sudden release of carbon dioxide in a worst-case scenario. If this happened, without an evacuation, it would asphyxiate thousands of people.

Mount Nyiragongo, six miles from Goma, erupted last weekend, killing 32 people. Around 3,000 houses were destroyed and more than 20,000 people were left homeless. At least 40 people are still missing.

Officials said the lava flow had slowed by Sunday morning, stopping just a few hundred meters from Goma’s city limits.

“We’ve been extremely lucky that it was very brief,” Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist based in Goma, told Reuters. “From the little information we have, it was just the lava within the crater that came out, there was no additional lava from below.”

Goma is a lakeside city where around 670,000 people live, according to UN estimates. Prior to last week’s eruption, Nyiragongo last erupted in 2002, killing 250 people and making 120,000 homeless.

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