This Saturday evening, at around 7pm, the inhabitants of the city of Goma, capital of North Kivu province, witnessed the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano. The government launched an evacuation plan for the city. While in Europe, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisékedi, cut short his stay.
It was around 7pm local time on Saturday when the first lava flows were observed from Nyiragongo, one of the volcanoes in the Goma region of eastern DRC. « I bring to the attention of the entire population of the city of Goma and its surroundings that the volcanological observatory confirms the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano since 22 May at around 7pm, » said General Constant Ndima, military governor of North Kivu province, on Saturday evening.
« In addition to the lava flow towards the North-East (Kibumba/Rwanda), another flow is also descending on the town. It has now reached the airport and, logically, it will go down towards Lake Kivu, » said an official of the Virunga National Park in a message addressed to his staff and copied to AFP. The official asked all those living near the airport « to evacuate without delay ». On the other hand, « at this stage, the other districts of the city are not in danger because there is no flow that can reach them, » he said.
The government launches the contingency plan
Taking the full measure of the situation, the government, which met in a crisis committee under the leadership of Prime Minister Sama Lukondé, launched the evacuation plan for the city. During a media interview, the government spokesperson, Patrick Muyaya, said that all precautions were taken and all services mobilised to secure the population. The population has indeed started to evacuate the threatened areas. While some are heading towards Saké in the west, others are heading towards neighbouring Rwanda where, according to the latest news, about 3,000 Congolese arrivals have already been received.
Félix Tshisekedi cuts short his stay in Europe
The services of the Congolese Presidency said that Felix Tshisekedi is following « very closely the evolution of the security and humanitarian situation in North Kivu following the volcanic eruption that occurred on Saturday 22 May in the early evening. They state that « the Head of State expresses his compassion and support to the local population. He invites them to show caution and solidarity in the face of this natural disaster.
The Presidency also announced that Felix Tshisekedi, currently in Europe, has decided to interrupt his stay to return to his country on Sunday to supervise the coordination of relief efforts for the population in areas threatened by the volcanic eruption.
As a reminder, the last eruption of Nyiragongo dates back to January 17, 2002 when the entire eastern part of Goma, including half of the city’s airport runway, was almost entirely covered and more than a hundred people died.
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