On Saturday morning, people in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) woke up in a stronger shake as families fleeing the terrible second volcanic eruption were struggling to find enough food and water.
A week ago, Mount Nyiragongo, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, came back to life, killing dozens of people, and lava rivers spread to the nearby city of Goma, destroying thousands of houses along the way. The lava stopped near the city border, but thousands of people fled when the government warned that the volcano might erupt again at any time on Thursday.
Most people have gone to the town of Sake in the northeast or the Rwandan border, while others fled across Lake Kivu by boat. According to Governor Theo Ngwabidje, nearly 10,000 people are taking refuge in Bukavu on the southern shore of the lake, many of whom are living in host families.
In Sake, about 20 kilometers (13 miles) northwest of Goma, people sleep wherever possible—by the roadside, in classrooms, and in churches.
Kabuo Asifiwe Muliwavyo, 36, said that she and her seven children have not eaten since they arrived on Thursday.
“They told us that there will be a second volcanic eruption and a big gas explosion,” she told Reuters with her crying one-year-old child.
“But since we moved, there is nothing here… we are starving to death.”
Just awakened by more tremors here #Rubber #Congo democratic republic. We want to know if #尼拉贡戈 Will break out again.Volcanologists say magma is still moving under the city and Lake Lake #Kivu. #Nilagongo volcano eruption
— Malcolm Webb (@MalcolmWebb) May 29, 2021
The evacuee Eugene Kubugu told AFP that the water caused the children to have diarrhea. He said: “We have nothing to eat and no place to sleep.”
Hassan Kanga, a lawyer who fled after the volcano erupted, said: “They told everyone that assistance will be organized and the funds will be paid by the government.
“However, you found us under the stars.”
Late Friday, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda called for “emergency global support” to deal with the crisis, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stated that about 400,000 people need support or protection.
Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF’s representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said: “As the risk of a cholera outbreak increases, we call for urgent international assistance to avoid possible disaster consequences for children.”
The evacuation order was issued at around 1 am local time on Thursday, after radar images showed lava flowing under Goma.
The Goma Volcano Observatory (OVG) stated that the movement of magma caused cracks in the ground and triggered hundreds of earthquakes, which could cause it to erupt to the surface in a new eruption.
Volcanologists say that the worst case is an eruption at the bottom of the lake. This may release hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) currently dissolved in the depths of the water. The gas will rise to the surface of the lake, forming an invisible cloud, which will linger on the ground and replace oxygen, suffocating life.
But Celestin Kasareka Mahinda of OVG said on Friday that the frequency and intensity of ground motions have weakened in the past 24 hours, indicating that the risk of new eruptions is fading.
“I don’t think we will have a second eruption. The problem is the risk of fracture, but the risk is small, about 20%,” he told Reuters.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday that at the same time, the Congolese authorities have reopened the main road that was divided in two by lava.
On Friday, almost all shops and banks in downtown Goma were closed, and there were only a few people and some motorcycle taxis on the usual bustling streets.
In the poorer areas of the north of the city, several shops are open and there are more people, including children playing by the waterwheel.
“I will stay in this city. I know I face imminent danger, but I have no choice,” said Aline Uramahoro, who owns a beer shop. “When the volcano starts to erupt, I will leave.”
Nyiragongo is nearly 3,500 meters (11,500 feet) above sea level, straddling the structural boundary of the East African Rift Valley. Its last major eruption was in 2002, which claimed about 100 lives, and the deadliest eruption on record caused more than 600 deaths in 1977.
Herman Paluku said he was 94 years old, and he said he had seen all of them-and insisted that he would not give in this time.
“There is a hill near here, which means that lava can’t reach us. This is what protects us,” he said in Swahili, sweeping his hands in the air.
“In this case, I can never leave here. I can’t.”