Strong Earthquakes in DR Congo Elevate Fears of Second Eruption of Nyiragongo

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Three to four days back, thousands of DR Congo citizens fled their homes following the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. As the sky turned red and rivers of lava streamed from Mount Nyiragongo, there were concerns that its past deadly tragedies would be repeated. The volcano’s deadliest eruption happened in 1977, when more than 600 people died. A mass evacuation was launched in the city of Goma, which has a population of about two million people.

The Nyiragongo volcano, located 10 kilometers (six miles) from Goma, had last erupted in 2002, killing 250 people and making 120,000 homeless. There has been no official report of casualties during the latest eruption and it is unclear how many homes have been damaged but some reports had come out claiming that 15 people might have lost their lives.

Crowds were seen with mattresses and other belongings, fleeing even before the government’s announcement, which came several hours after the eruption started. Many residents headed across the nearby Rwandan border, while others went to higher ground to the west of the city.

Rwandan authorities reported about 3,000 people had officially crossed from Goma. The country’s state media said they would be accommodated in schools and places of worship.

According to BBC, one Goma resident by names of Richard Bahati, said he was in his house when he heard screaming. “I got out and saw the sky was red. I am so worried, so worried. I lived through the problem with this volcano in 2002. The volcano devastated all our homes and possessions.”

Mount Nyiragongo is one of the world’s most active volcanoes but there were concerns that its activity had not been properly observed by the Goma Volcano Observatory, since the World Bank cut funding amid allegations of corruption. In a report on 10th May, the observatory warned that seismic activity at Nyiragongo had increased.

Earth Quakes;

Regional officials reported strong earthquakes yesterday, Tuesday May 25th, in the area surrounding the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Mount Nyiragongo volcano, three days after it erupted, killing an estimated number of 32 people, destroying villages, and displacing at least 5,000 residents.

The Rwanda Seismic Monitor reported on its Twitter account several quakes Tuesday, including a 5.3-magnitude quake in the borderlands between Rwanda and the eastern DRC, near Mount Nyiragongo. The quakes have raised fears among locals that the volcano could erupt again.

Mount Nyiragongo — one of Africa’s most active — erupted on Saturday for the first time since 2002, sending a river of lava downhill toward Goma, a city of some 2 million people 13 kilometers away. The molten rock stopped a few hundred meters short of city limits, but not before it destroyed about 1,000 homes, officials said.

At a briefing in Geneva, U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesman Boris Cheshirkov told reporters that 32 people died in incidents related to the eruption, including seven people killed by lava and five asphyxiated by gas.
He said two villages on Goma’s northern tip were destroyed, and two others were partially covered by lava. Several neighborhoods were left without electricity, and there are fears of water shortages.

Cheshirkov briefed reporters following a joint evaluation involving the DRC government, the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies. UNICEF reported that more than 150 children were separated from their families amid the chaos and more than 170 children are feared missing.

Along with the tremors, the UNHCR reports the lava lake in the volcano’s crater appears to have refilled, adding to fears of a second eruption.

Mount Nyiragongo;
Mount Nyiragongo is one of DR Congo’s major attractions, and the volcano resides within proximity to the remarkable Virunga National Park, in Goma, – a park widely known for inhabiting the endangered mountain gorillas. The Nyiragongo volcano rises at 3470 meters offering a medium hike to the top of the volcano approximately 5 – 6 hours.

Hiking is the highlight of any visits to this legendary mountain in the eastern region of DR Congo. Mount Nyiragongo comprises of a lava lake which is very stunning and impressive. Mount Nyiragongo hike tours were opened to tourism in 2014 by the Virunga National Park authorities. Visitors usually combine mountain gorilla trekking, in Virunga National Park, and hiking the Nyiragongo volcano.

Travelers looking for a unique and once in a lifetime mountain hiking adventure will find the answer in hiking Mount Nyiragongo. It is the only place in Africa where visitors are allowed to go and see a lava lake up close atop this beautiful volcano.

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