Mount Nyiragongo volcano erupts in Congo after almost two decades, over 500 homes destroyed


Mount Nyiragongo erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo on May 22, 2021 after almost two decades, forcing thousands to flee their homes. The lava destroyed more than 500 homes on the outskirts on Goma city but the city at large was saved. 

The lava stopped short of engulfing the main city, which is home to almost 2 million people. However, thousands fled from the city in panic when the volcano erupted at night, turning the sky into a fiery red tone. 

The lava poured into local villages after dark in eastern Congo with little warning, leaving at least 15 people dead and destroying over 500 homes. The lava also spilled into a major highway that connects Goma city with Beni city in North Kivu province. 

UN Secretary General António Guterres tweeted saying that he is deeply saddened by the lives lost and the damage caused by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He stated that the UN staff are supporting the Government’s efforts to assist those affected, through the provision of emergency humanitarian aid.

Key Details 

•Mount Nyiragongo erupted without warning on May 26, 2021 forcing almost 5000 people to evacuate their homes in Goma city and flee across the border to neighbouring country Rwanda. 

•According to Rwanda’s Emergency Management Ministry, at least 8,000 people crossed the border into the country following the eruption.

•Another 25,000 reportedly took refuge to the northwest in Sake. The Congo authorities had not given any evacuation order. 

•According to UNICEF, around 170 children are feared to be missing. UNICEF was organizing transit centers to help unaccompanied children in the wake of the disaster.

•Fortunately, Goma city this was time was spared from the large-scale destruction that it had suffered the last time the volcano had erupted in 2002. 

•The local villages near the volcano, however, suffered heavy destruction and loss. The survivors are filled with grief after losing their loved ones and all their belongings after the lava ignited their homes. 

•The scale of the loss is yet to be determined in some of the hardest-hit communities.

•The air continues to remain thick with smoke because of how many homes had caught fire when the lava came.

•According to the survivors, there was very little warning before the night sky turned fiery red and lava came flowing. 

•As per reports, smoke continues to rise from the smoldering heaps of lava in the Buhene area near Goma city. Almost all the houses in the Buhene neighborhood were burned. 

•While one major highway that connects Goma cit with Beni was also engulfed in the hot lava, the airport, fortunately, was spared from the same fate as 2002 when lava had flowed into the runways. 

•The thousands of people who evacuated the area have now returned to view the aftermath. 

Mount Nyiragongo’s 2002 eruption

•Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano, which is located inside Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is located about 12 km north of Goma city and Lake Kivu and just west of Congo’s border with Rwanda.

•The volcano had last erupted in 2002 after several months of increased seismic and fumarolic activity. The lava had then streamed deep through Goma.

•The warning had been issued then and about 400,000 people were evacuated from the city across the Rwandan border into neighbouring Gisenyi during the eruption. 

•The lava had flowed onto the northern end of the runway at Goma International Airport, leaving the southern two-thirds usable and reached Lake Kivu.

•Hundreds of people had died during the eruption and almost 100,000 were left homeless.


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