2021 Mount Nyiragongo Eruption : Thousands of people fled their homes on Saturday evening following the sudden eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. Mount Nyiragongo is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and one of the deadliest given that its lava is partially fluid and has the potential to flow fast.

Mount Nyiragongo is located in the eastern province of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The volcano is situated approximately 10km from Goma city and has been one of the most visited tourist attractions in Congo, after the endangered mountain gorillas in Virunga national park.

The last eruption on Mount Nyiragongo was recorded in 2002, killing 250 people and leaving over 150,000 people displaced. Reports from the local government show that about 32 people have died from the current eruption.

Five people have died from asphyxiation as they tried to cross the lava when it was cooling, and the sixth person has been admitted to a nearby hospital in Goma city with severe breath difficulties. In addition to this, nine of the 32 recorded deaths resulted from traffic accidents on the roads as residents fled from their homes.

Although the eruption has spared much of Goma city, it caused massive destruction in Buhene district which is situated at the outskirts of Goma city. A lot of people have been displaced, with homes and commercial buildings burnt to the ground.

2021 Mount Nyiragongo Eruption
2021 Mount Nyiragongo Eruption

Many residents were seen fleeing their homes on Saturday night even before local authorities announced an evacuation plan. Majority of the residents left their homes with children only while others fled with a few items such as mattresses and clothes.

Rwandan authorities have confirmed that over 3,000 people have officially crossed into Rwanda from Goma. According to UNICEF, over 25,000 people fled north of Sake as they sought refuge from the lava.

However as of May 23, the Rwandan authorities reported that most of those that fled to Rwanda for refugee have returned back to Congo in an effort to salvage what is left of their property and try to reconnect with their families.

Although there were rumours that the lava had destroyed the airport in Goma, airport authorities have confirmed that the airport was untouched by the lava.  There have also been concerns that volcanic activity on Mount Nyiragongo had not been properly reported by the Goma Volcano Observatory since its funding had been cut by the World Bank following allegations of corruption in the observatory.

2021 Mount Nyiragongo Eruption
2021 Mount Nyiragongo Eruption

However on 10 May, the observatory reported that there had been an increase in the seismic activity at Mount Nyiragongo. In September 2020, the observatory reported that the volcano’s lava lake had been filling up quickly thus increasing the chances of eruption in the next few years.

Despite the fact that the 2021 eruption on Mount Nyiragongo has not been so devastating like in the past, there has been significant damaged and destruction caused especially in Buhene district where almost 97 percent of the homes in the area have been burnt to the ground. Seventeen villages located around the volcano have also reported damages although the lava stopped at the outskirts of Goma.

Hiking Mount Nyiragongo in Congo has been one of the top tourism activities in the country; with the red molten lava lake being the highlight of all hiking expeditions on the mountain. A majority of visitors have always loved combining a hike to Nyiragongo Mountain with gorilla trekking in Virunga national park.

The deadliest eruption on Nyiragongo volcano was recorded in 1977 killing more than 600 people. The 2021 eruption on Nyiragongo Mountain is the latest bringing tourism activities on the mountain to a standstill.

Conclusion: Revamping of hiking safaris to Mount Nyiragongo will be communicated by the government of Congo and authorities at Virunga National Park.

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