Threatened by the possibility of a new eruption from the Nyiragongo volcano, the city of Goma, in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), saw almost 400 people leave. The metropolitan area of ​​the city has about 2 million people. people, with 600 thousand in the city alone, making the place chaotic. Now, the streets are quiet and empty.

In the summary of the emergency meeting on the situation of the volcano, held on Friday (28), it is described that almost 80 thousand houses are empty. In the past four days there have been records of earthquakes so strong that they were felt in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, 160 kilometers away.

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Since last Saturday (22), 32 people have died, 20 of them because of gases released after the eruption that day. Between 900 and 2,5 houses were destroyed by lava, according to data from humanitarian organizations released by the agency DW. In Rubavu, a city in Rwanda 30 kilometers away, more than 1,2 buildings were affected by the tremors.

The last night, from Thursday to Friday, was a little quieter, with fewer earthquakes and less intensity. Even so, the city of Goma dawned practically deserted, with no policing on the streets and closed shops.

“I stayed in the city. I know I'm in danger, but I have no choice. I will leave when the volcano starts to expel, ”said Aline Uramahoro, manager of one of the few open establishments, to the AFP.

Nyiragongo Volcano
Lava from the Nyiragongo volcano. Image: Photovolcanica.com

Still on Thursday (27), the authorities warned of the “presence of magma under the urban area of ​​Goma, which stretched under Lake Kivu ”. This causes the possibility of "an eruption on land, or under the lake, with no precursor sign", causing the order of "preventive" evacuation.

On the same day, a group of scientists went to the top of the Nyiragongo volcano, to assess the risks of a new eruption. They also observed and extracted current data, to assist the government in making future decisions.

Last Saturday's eruption was "very small, a real miracle" because little lava came out, according to Italian volcanologist Dario Tedesco, who lived in Goma. But now, there are four types of risks, according to the authorities.

The first risk is the repeated earthquakes, followed by the toxicity of the air and water by the ash dispersed in the atmosphere. There is also this possibility of secondary eruption, with lava directly on the ground. The worst case scenario is a "gas reserve under Lake Kivu by contact with the magma".

The most recent major eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano took place on January 17, 2002. At least XNUMX people died at the time.

Street: State of Minas / DW

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