Mount Nyiragongo: DR Congo plans to evacuate city as volcano erupts
The government in the Democratic Republic of Congo has launched an evacuation plan for the eastern city of Goma after a large volcano erupted.
Fountains of high lava burst from the Mount Nyiragongo into the night sky forming a thick orange cloud over Goma, which has a population of two million.
Panicked people were fleeing to safety.
The volcano, located about 10km (six miles) from the city, last erupted in 2002, killing 250 people and making 120,000 homeless.
Even before the government’s announcement, crowds of residents were seen with mattresses and other belongings, fleeing, many on foot, towards the border with Rwanda to the east. Some others fled to higher grounds to the west of the city.
Resident Carine Mbala told AFP news agency: “There is a smell of sulphur. In the distance you can see giant flames coming out of the mountain.”
People have been advised to stay calm, but some complained about the lack of information from the authorities amid conflicting accounts circulating on social media.
“We’re already in a total psychosis,” resident Zacharie Paluku told the Associated Press (AP) news agency. “Everyone is afraid; people are running away. We really don’t know what to do.”
Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist based in Goma, told Reuters news agency that a new fracture had opened up on the volcano, and that the lava was reaching the city’s airport.
“Now Goma is the target,” Mr Tedesco said. “I think that the lava is going towards the city centre.”
One highway that connects Goma with the city of Beni had already been engulfed by the lava, according to AP. Electricity was out across large parts of the city.
A government spokesman said on Twitter that the government was discussing “urgent measures to take” after the prime minister convened an emergency meeting in the capital, Kinshasa.
A video posted to Twitter by The New Times in Rwanda showed the eruption from the town of Rubavu, near the border with Rwanda.