DR Congo Counts Cost of Volcanic Eruption in Goma

Some people are returning home a night after Mount Nyiragongo erupted, sending dangerous lava flows in the direction of the nearby city of Goma.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has begun counting the physical and human cost on Sunday of a volcanic eruption.

Mount Nyiragongo erupted late on Saturday night, prompting the evacuation of Goma, a nearby city of some 2 million people.

There were fears that lava could flow around 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) to the lakeside city, but the flows stopped just short.

Death toll will likely rise

At least 15 people died, including nine in a traffic accident as residents fled, four who tried to escape Munzenze prison in Goma and two who burned to death, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said in a statement.

The figure could still rise as provincial authorities from hard-hit villages continue to assess the damage. A total of 17 outlying villages were hit, Muyaya said.

Community members have given a provisional toll of 10 dead in Bugamba alone, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Thousands flee Goma

The International Federation of Red Cross said that between 3,000 and 5,000 people fled into Rwanda on Saturday, many of them peasants and farmers with livestock. Some began returning on Sunday.

A further 25,000 others sought refuge to the northwest in Sake, UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, said on Sunday.

More than 170 children have still feared missing Sunday and UNICEF officials said they were organizing transit centres to help unaccompanied children in the wake of the disaster.

Three health centres, a primary school and a water pipeline were destroyed.

Lava crossed the main road running north from Goma, severing a key aid and supply route, and the city’s principal supply of electricity, delivered along a line run by the Congolese Water and Electricity Distribution Company, was cut.

What’s next?

The government has sent a delegation to Goma to help the disaster response efforts.

“Local authorities who have been monitoring the eruption overnight report that the lava flow has lost intensity,” Muyaya said.

But authorities have warned that the danger is not yet over and that seismic activity in the area could cause further lava flows.

Source: DW

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