Volcanic eruption, ensuing chaos kill at the least 15 in Congo

Officers and survivors say a volcanic eruption in Congo and the following chaos have killed at the least 15 folks and destroyed greater than 500 houses

GOMA, Congo — Torrents of lava poured into villages after darkish in japanese Congo with little warning, leaving at the least 15 folks lifeless amid the chaos and destroying greater than 500 houses, officers and survivors mentioned Sunday.

The eruption of Mount Nyiragongo on Saturday night time despatched about 5,000 folks fleeing from the town of Goma throughout the close by border into Rwanda, whereas one other 25,000 others sought refuge to the northwest in Sake, the U.N. youngsters’s company mentioned Sunday.

Greater than 170 youngsters had been nonetheless feared lacking Sunday, and UNICEF officers mentioned they had been organizing transit facilities to assist unaccompanied youngsters within the wake of the catastrophe.

Goma finally was largely spared the mass destruction brought on by the volcano’s final eruption in 2002. Tons of died then and greater than 100,000 folks had been left homeless. However in outlying villages nearer to the volcano, Sunday was marked by grief and uncertainty.

Aline Bichikwebo and her child managed to flee when the lava stream reached her village, however mentioned each her mom and father had been amongst those that perished. Group members gave a provisional toll of 10 lifeless in Bugamba alone, although provincial authorities mentioned it was too quickly to know what number of lives had been misplaced.

Bichikwebo says she tried to rescue her father however wasn’t sturdy sufficient to maneuver him to security earlier than the household’s dwelling was ignited by lava.

“I’m asking for assist as a result of every little thing we had is gone,” she mentioned, clutching her child. “We don’t actually have a pot. We at the moment are orphans and we’ve nothing.”

The air remained thick with smoke due to what number of houses had caught fireplace when the lava got here.

“Individuals are nonetheless panicking and are hungry,” resident Alumba Sutoye mentioned. “They don’t even know the place they’re going to spend the night time.”

Elsewhere, authorities mentioned at the least 5 different folks had died in a truck crash whereas they had been attempting to evacuate Goma, however the scale of the loss had but to be decided in a number of the hardest-hit communities.

Residents mentioned there was little warning earlier than the darkish sky turned a fiery purple, sending folks operating for his or her lives in all instructions. One lady went into labor and gave beginning whereas fleeing the eruption to Rwanda, the nationwide broadcaster there mentioned.

Smoke rose from smoldering heaps of lava within the Buhene space close to the town Sunday.

“We now have seen the lack of nearly a complete neighborhood,” Harmless Bahala Shamavu mentioned. “All the homes in Buhene neighborhood had been burned and that’s why we’re asking all of the provincial authorities and authorities on the nationwide stage in addition to all of the companions, all of the folks of fine religion on the earth, to come back to assistance from this inhabitants.”

Elsewhere, witnesses mentioned lava had engulfed one freeway connecting Goma with the town of Beni. Nonetheless, the airport gave the impression to be spared the identical destiny as 2002 when lava flowed onto the runways.

Goma is a regional hub for a lot of humanitarian businesses within the area, in addition to the U.N. peacekeeping mission. Whereas Goma is dwelling to many U.N. peacekeepers and help staff, a lot of surrounding japanese Congo is beneath menace from myriad armed teams vying for management of the area’s mineral assets.

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Related Press author Jean Yves Kamale in Kinshasa, Congo, contributed to this report.

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