Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has ordered the evacuation of residents after a volcanic eruption.
Gatekeepers News reports that residents of the eastern city of Goma were on Saturday urged to evacuate after a volcano erupted in the area.
Minister of Communications, Patrick Muyaya tweeted: “The evacuation plan for the city of #Goma has been activated.
“The government is discussing the urgent measures to take at present,” he added.
Gatekeepers News gathered that the evacuation plan was initiated after an emergency meeting of the government to discuss the situation.
Lava from Mount Nyiragongo had neared Goma’s airport late on Saturday and thousands of residents fled the border city with their belongings on foot even before the official confirmation.
Residents had earlier reported a strong smell of sulphur on the streets of the eastern town and a red glow filling up the sky above the city.
Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist based in Goma, explained that the lava initially flowed east towards Rwanda but later in the night, new fractures opened in the volcano allowing lava to flow south towards Goma.
“Now, Goma is the target,” Tedesco told the Reuters news agency, adding that “it’s similar to 2002. I think that the lava is going towards the city centre.”
“It might stop before or go on. It’s difficult to forecast,” he added.
Over 3,500 Congolese have crossed the border, according to Rwanda’s Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management.
Nyiragongo last erupted on January 17, 2002, and left about a hundred persons dead after covering almost all of the eastern part of Goma with lava, including half of the airport’s landing strip.
The 3,000-metre high volcano of the year 1977 is still considered the deadliest after over 600 people were killed.