DRC official says 15 dead after Nyiragongo volcano eruption

Monday May 24 2021
Debris engulfs buildings in Bushara village

Debris engulfs buildings in Bushara village, Nyiragongo, near Goma, on May 23, 2021 after a volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. PHOTO | AFP


At least 15 people have died after the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano on Saturday night in the northeastern province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), authorities say.

Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said the 15 people were killed while fleeing the lava.

Nine people were killed in a truck rollover accident while four victims were prisoners trying to break the Munzenze central prison in Goma, the spokesman said, adding that two more people were burned to death on Sunday morning.

Bushara village near Goma

An aerial view of Bushara village near Goma on May 23, 2021 following a volcanic eruption of Mt Nyiragongo in eastern DRC. PHOTO | AFP

Collateral damage

The DRC authorities said 17 villages including Buhene, Katoyi and Majengo were affected by the lava flow, which destroyed homes and infrastructure. Three health facilities, a primary school, a slaughterhouse and a water pipeline have also been destroyed.


Mr Muyaya still urged residents to avoid non-essential activities while seismic activity in the area could still cause damage.

Helicopters of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC made constant reconnaissance flights over the crater after the eruption to closely monitor the situation.

According to UN children agency Unicef, about 5,000 people fled from the city of Goma to nearby Rwanda across the border, while another 25,000 sought refuge to the northwest in Sake Town. More than 170 children were still feared missing on Sunday.

Unicef officials said they were organising transit centres to help unaccompanied children in the wake of the disaster.

The military governor of North Kivu Constant Ndima ordered the army and national police to “ensure the security of the city of Goma and in the evacuation routes in order to avoid cases of theft, barbarism and infiltration.”

According to local authorities, the lava flow came to a stop at around 4am local time (0300 GMT) on Sunday morning on the outskirts of the city of Goma.

Local residents started returning to their homes in abandoned neighbourhoods overnight.