Lava stops on the outskirts of the capital of DR Congo, thousands of people flee after a volcanic eruption

A smoking trail of lava from a volcanic eruption appeared to have come to a halt a few hundred meters from the edge of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s main city on Sunday morning, a Reuters reporter said on the spot.

Goma, a lakeside town of about 2 million people, panicked on Saturday night when nearby Mount Nyiragongo erupted and the night sky turned an eerie red. Thousands fled on foot with their belongings, some towards the nearby border with Rwanda.

When the sun rose on Sunday, much of the hill to the north of the city had been burnt black and houses had been demolished. The sky was a cloudy gray again.

“Local authorities who have been monitoring the eruption overnight report that the lava flow has fallen in intensity,” government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said on Twitter on Sunday.

The previous eruption of Nyiragongo in 2002 killed 250 people and left 120,000 homeless. It is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is considered one of the most dangerous. Saturday’s eruption appears to have been caused by fractures in the volcano’s side, creating lava flows in different directions.

Experts were concerned that the volcanic activity observed at Nyiragongo over the past five years matches that in the years leading up to the 1977 and 2002 eruptions.

The Reuters reporter said the lava flow had stopped near Goma airport and the city limits, but the surrounding villages were affected.

Lava crossed a main road from Goma and closed off the cities to the north. Traffic was stalled in most places as people tried to leave or return to assess the damage to their homes.

Material damage was impossible to estimate whether someone had died.

A separate lava flow running east across uninhabited land to Rwanda also appeared to have stopped, the reporter said.

(REUTERS)

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