The eruption of Nyiragongo Mountain killed at least 15 people, caused 30,000 people to flee Goma, and destroyed more than 500 houses.
Officials and survivors said on Sunday that after dark in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, lava torrents poured into the village without warning. At least 15 people were killed in the chaos and more than 500 houses were destroyed.
This Mount Nilagongo Eruption UNICEF said on Sunday that about 5,000 people fled the nearby border from the city of Goma into Rwanda on Saturday night, and another 25,000 took refuge in the northwest of Sake.
Still worried about the disappearance of more than 170 children on Sunday, UNICEF officials said they are organizing transfer centers to help unaccompanied children after the disaster.
In the end, Goma largely avoided the large-scale damage suffered during the last volcanic eruption in 2002. Hundreds of people died at that time and more than 100,000 people were left homeless. But in remote villages near the volcano, Sunday is full of sadness and uncertainty.
Beatrice Katungu, 47, said her husband and 8 out of 10 children were missing.
“I don’t know what happened, whether they were burned by lava, because the eruption happened at night,” Katungu told Al Jazeera.
“Some people return home on Sunday morning, but unfortunately, my family hasn’t.”
The smoke of many houses on fire filled the air.
Florence Rudasigara, another victim of the eruption, told Al Jazeera that no officials have come to help her.
“I’m a widow. I don’t know where to go. May the government help us. We haven’t seen any officials come to sympathize with us. We have been abandoned,” Rudasigara said. “We will starve to death.”
Elsewhere, the authorities stated that at least five people were killed in a truck crash while trying to evacuate Goma, but in some of the worst-hit communities, the scale of the damage has yet to be determined.
Residents said there was almost no warning before the dark sky turned into a blazing red, causing people to run around in life. The national radio station there said a woman participated in childbirth while fleeing the eruption in Rwanda.
On Sunday, in the Bhayne area near the city, thick smoke erupted from a pile of lava.
Innocent Bahala Shamavu told The Associated Press: “We have witnessed the loss of the entire community.”
“All houses near Buhenay were burned down. That’s why we ask all provincial and national authorities and all partners, all sincere people in the world to help this population.”
Witnesses said the lava also engulfed a highway connecting Goma and Beni. However, when lava flowed into the runway, the airport did not seem to suffer the same fate as in 2002.
Goma is the regional hub for many humanitarian agencies in the region and United Nations peacekeeping missions.
Other reporting by Esdras Tsongo in Goma.