5000 flee into Rwanda after volcanic eruption
At least 15 people have died as a result of the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo last Saturday night. The spread of lava stopped just short of Goma, eastern Congo’s hub for trade and transport. More than 500 homes were destroyed and property was damaged in 17 villages surrounding the area. More than 170 children are still missing.
The Washington Post, May 22, 2021
An aerial view shows lava flowing from the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo near Goma, Congo, on May 22. (Monusco/Via Reuters)
“Panic spread as we were in contact with the residents of the north of the city who from their roofs could see the path of the lava as it made its way to the airport,” said Patient Iraguha, a resident of Rwanda who works in Goma.
“Information was circulating in all directions,” he told The Washington Post Sunday from Rwanda. “During this time no official statement dictated any instructions, and nothing came out on the radio like on national television to give the right information on the direction of the lava and the escape route to take.”
The coronavirus pandemic has created unusual uncertainty at the Congo-Rwanda border crossing at Goma, which is one of the world’s busiest, seeing tens of thousands of people cross on foot each day. While the border remains open, confusion over temperature checks and other monitoring measures put in place added to the chaos, Iraguha said.
People are seen walking near smoldering ashes early morning in Goma, Congo, on May 23 following the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. (Moses Sawasawa/AFP/Getty Images)
CBC, May 23, 2021
Aline Bichikwebo and her baby managed to escape when the lava flow reached her village, but said both her mother and father were among those who perished. Community members gave a provisional toll of 10 dead in Bugamba alone, though provincial authorities said it was too soon to know how many lives were lost.
Bichikwebo says she tried to rescue her father but wasn’t strong enough to move him to safety before the family’s home was ignited by lava.
“I am asking for help because everything we had is gone,” she said, clutching her baby. “We don’t even have a pot. We are now orphans and we have nothing.”
“People are still panicking and are hungry,” resident Alumba Sutoye said. “They don’t even know where they are going to spend the night.”
Residents said there was little warning before the dark sky turned a fiery red, sending people running for their lives in all directions. Smoke rose from smouldering heaps of lava in the Buhene area near the city.
“We have seen the loss of almost an entire neighbourhood,” said Innocent Bahala Shamavu. “All the houses in Buhene neighbourhood were burned, and that’s why we are asking all the provincial authorities and authorities at the national level, as well as all the partners, all the people of good faith in the world, to come to the aid of this population.”
Residents check the damage caused by lava from the overnight eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in Buhene, on the outskirts of Goma, early Sunday. (Justin Kabumba/The Associated Press)
YEGO Rwanda founder Emmanuel Gatera has been in touch to assure us that all YEGO staff and beneficiaries are safe.