Goma, DRC | XINHUA | Around 3,000 people fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s eastern city of Goma for neighbouring Rwanda on Sunday as lava from a volcanic eruption from Mt Nyiragongo reached the airport of the city.
The evacuation plan for Goma has been activated, said government spokesman Patrick Muyaya after an emergency government meeting to discuss the situation.
About 3,000 people from Goma, DRC have crossed to Rwanda, Rwandan state media said, adding that they would be accommodated in schools and places of worship.
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As many residents fled Goma to take refuge in neighboring Rwanda, others headed for villages surrounding the city, including Sake.
The Nyiragongo volcano, which overlooks the city of Goma and is not far from the DR Congo’s border with Rwanda, started to erupt on Satuday.
According to the Goma-based volcanological monitoring office, the lava is heading towards the border with Rwanda. The sky of Goma, with a population of nearly 2 million, was illuminated with orange flames. The electricity supply across much of city was cut off.
Lt. Gen. Ndima Kongba Constant, governor of North Kivu province, of which Goma is capital, said in a televised address on Saturday that local civil defense forces started evacuating Goma residents following the volcanic eruption.
Goma is a regional base for many NGOs and international organisations, including the UN peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO.
All UN aircraft have been evacuated to the city of Bukavu to the south and Entebbe in neighbouring Uganda, reports said.
Several planes, belonging to Monusco and private organizations, also took off in the evening, sources said.
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi is returning from Europe to oversee the relief efforts and is closely monitoring the security and humanitarian situation in the country’s eastern North Kivu province, the presidency said.
Goma is home to two active volcanoes — Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo. The last time a major Nyiragongo eruption occurred was in 2002, when about 250 people were killed and 120,000 others were left homeless.
The eruption of Nyiragongo is similar to its eruption in 2002, said the authorities, adding that other districts of the city were not in danger as the lava was unlikely to reach those areas.
Earlier, the North Kivu province governor appealed for calm and urged people to follow the guidance of civil protection units.