Congo’s Mount Nyiragongo Volcano Erupts, Sending Lava For Miles : NPR

When Mount Nyiragongo erupted in Congo on Saturday, two people can be seen in front of a red night sky. Justin Kabumba / AP hide caption

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Justin Kabumba / AP

When Mount Nyiragongo erupted in Congo on Saturday, two people can be seen in front of a red night sky.

Justin Kabumba / AP

Mount Nyiragongo in the Congo suddenly erupted on Saturday evening, turning the sky a fiery red, lava running over the sides and threatening the city of Goma.

Overnight, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the region reported during a reconnaissance flight that the lava did not appear to be flowing towards Goma, a town of nearly 2 million people on the edge of Lake Kivu. Still, thousands were evacuated – many across the border into Rwanda – remembering the widespread devastation caused by the last outbreak in 2002, when death toll reports ran into the hundreds and tens of thousands of homes were lost.

🚨🚨Volcanic activities around Goma: MONUSCO undertakes reconnaissance flights.

The lava does not appear to be going towards the city of Goma. We stay on the alert. pic.twitter.com/JQmz7v16Ne

– MONUSCO (@MONUSCO) May 22, 2021

Officials said that on Sunday morning The lava flow had slowed down, and local journalists reported that it had stopped a few hundred yards from Goma’s city limits. The nearby airport was also spared.

People who fled to Rwanda during the night eruption of Mount Nyiragongo are returning to Goma, Congo, early Sunday. Justin Kabumba / AP hide caption

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Justin Kabumba / AP

People who fled to Rwanda during the night eruption of Mount Nyiragongo are returning to Goma, Congo, early Sunday.

Justin Kabumba / AP

But the molten earth current crossed a major road out of town, cutting it off from the north, and leaving many people stranded as they tried to return to their homes and assess the damage. It is still unclear whether someone died on the run or from the lava flow itself.

“We were very lucky that it was very short,” Dario Tedesco, a Goma-based volcanologist, told Reuters. “From what little information we have, only the lava in the crater came out, there was no additional lava from below.”

The Hot Seat: A photographer's descent into a volcano

Mount Nyiragongo is considered to be one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It has erupted dozens of times since 1882and its steep sides mean that lava flows tend to move uniquely fast. Experts have been watching it for years and are concerned about the next outbreak.

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