Nyiragongo eruption: Volcano death toll rises to 32; Goma battered by aftershocks [watch]

Mount Nyiragongo, a stratovolcano, located 12-kilometres from the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) erupted for the first time since 2002, on Saturday, 22 May.

Thousands of residents fled as the sky turned red and as of Tuesday, at least 32 people have died because of the eruption.

On Wednesday, four days after Mount Nyiragongo erupted, shockwaves hit the city of Goma and damaged several buildings.

GOMA SHAKEN BY AFTERMATH OF NYIRAGONGO ERUPTION

People fled their homes on Wednesday after two powerful aftershock earthquakes struck the area, according to AFP.

A 5.1-magnitude earthquake was detected at 5:46, local time, followed by a 4.1-magnitude tremor at 6:12, according to a seismic monitoring agency, RSM, in Rwanda whose border is near the coastal city.

According to AFP, local volcanologists have detected hundreds of aftershocks since Nyiragongo erupted but they expect the seismic activity to come to an end soon. On Sunday, by the time the eruption ended, there were two rivers of molten lava running from the volcano – one of which destroyed several villages and stopped just short of Goma.

Thirty-two people were killed by the eruption – in accidents while trying to escape, when the lava destroyed their homes, or by inhaling toxic smoke or gas – and approximately 5000 people have been displaced.

According to reports, there is widespread structural damage across the city, which is home to 1.5 million people. On Tuesday, four buildings partially collapsed – eight people were seriously injured when a three-storey structure gave in, while two other buildings were damaged in different parts of Goma.

Long cracks that measure several dozen centimetres in length have appeared in the ground since the eruption and people have opted to sleep on the street amid fears that their homes will collapse.

SCIENTISTS DID NOT WARN RESIDENTS ABOUT NYIRAGONGO

Congolese authorities were blamed for not warning people about the possibility of an eruption. The scientific director of the Volcanic Observatory of Goma, Celestin Kasereka Mahinda told the Associated Press (AP) that scientists were unable to warn the population because of a funding cut.

“The observatory no longer has the support of the central government or of external donors, which explains why the volcanic eruption was such a surprise,” said Mahinda.

2002 ERUPTION LEFT 100 000 PEOPLE HOMELESS

Unlike the last time Mount Nyiragongo erupted, Goma was largely spared. In 2002, lava from the volcano covered 13% of the city and left more than 100 000 people homeless. An estimated 245 people were killed by the because of carbon dioxide asphyxiation and collapsing buildings.

Additional reporting by AFP.

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Presh JM Reporter

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