Congo’s Mount Nyiragongo erupted for the first time in nearly two decades on Saturday May 22. Thousands fled a volcanic eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo, turning the night sky a fiery red and sending lava onto a major highway but the flaming lava appeared to have come to a halt on the outskirts of Goma city by early May 23 as panicked residents tried to flee Goma, a city of nearly 2 million.
Witnesses say that lava already had engulfed one highway that connects Goma with the city of Beni in North Kivu province.
At least 15 people died among the chaos and 500 homes were destroyed.
More than 170 children still feared missing said the UN children’s agency.
Authorities claim at least 5 people died in the truck clash while fleeing.
The government said an evacuation plan was being activated, but the official announcement came several hours after the sky turned a fiery red, and many people had fled on foot in hope of crossing the Rwandan border post just outside town which caused panic and traffic on the road. Residents reported a strong smell of sulphur on the streets of Goma.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO tweeted it was conducting reconnaissance flights over Goma where it maintains a large base.
Some sought refuge aboard boats on Lake Kivu, while others fled to Mount Goma, the highest point in the metropolitan area.
Authorities at the Goma Volcano Observatory initially said it was the nearby Nyamulagira volcano that had erupted. The two volcanos are located about 13 kilometers (8.1 miles) apart. The lack of immediate announcements from authorities and conflicting accounts circulating on social media only added to the sense of chaos in Goma.
.(Justin Kabumba / AP)