Thousands flee DR Congo volcano for neighbouring Rwanda

A lost child sits on a curb as Congolese people flee from Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after the Nyiragongo volcano erupted, at the border point known as ‘Petite Barriere’ in Gisenyi, Rwanda, May 23, 2021. — AFP pic
A lost child sits on a curb as Congolese people flee from Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after the Nyiragongo volcano erupted, at the border point known as ‘Petite Barriere’ in Gisenyi, Rwanda, May 23, 2021. — AFP pic

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KIGALI (Rwanda), May 23 — At least 3,000 people have fled an eastern city in the Democratic Republic of Congo for Rwanda today after the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo.

The government ordered an evacuation after the volcano, which overlooks the regional capital city Goma, began erupting Saturday.

“At least 3,000 people from Goma, in DRC, have already crossed to Rwanda,” the public broadcaster the Rwanda Broadcast Agency tweeted citing the latest figures from Rwanda immigration authorities at the Rwanda-DRC border.

The account also tweeted photos of people arriving in Rubavu district in Rwanda, adding that they would be “accommodated in schools and places of worship that have been made ready”.

Rwanda’s ambassador to the DR Congo Vincent Karega tweeted that “the borders are open and our neighbours are being welcomed peacefully”.

The lava reached the DRC city’s airport early Sunday, with an official from Virunga National Park — where the volcano is located — telling his staff: “the situation is deteriorating”.

Earlier, as the volcano began lighting up a smell of sulfur pervaded Goma city on the shores of Lake Kivu, according to an AFP correspondent.

The regional capital of North Kivu, Goma has nearly 600,000 inhabitants, spread across 12 districts.

The authorities’ evacuation plan anticipates that two-thirds of them will go to Rwanda.

The previous major eruption of Nyiragongo dates back to January 17, 2002, and killed more than 100 people, covering almost the entire eastern part of Goma with lava, including half of the airport runway. — AFP

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