Congo-Kinshasa: DR Congo - Volcano Eruption Prompts Goma Evacuation

Goma residents are seen leaving the city following a sudden activity of the Nyiragongo volcano

For the moment, there is no sign of a flow of lava from the city, the correspondent said.

Ndima said around 7,000 people fled overnight to neighbouring Rwanda before returning.

"People are wondering whether the volcano has stopped, or whether it will continue, whether the lava will reappear", one resident said.

A general view shows civilians watching the smoke and flames of the volcanic eruption near Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo May 22, 2021.

"Only about 100 of them are still in Rwanda but they are people who have cars who spent the night in hotels", Kayisire added.

Rwanda's Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management said more than 3,500 Congolese had crossed the border.

North Kivu military governor Constant Ndima called on the resident to remain calm.

The observatory had just started to resume operations last month thanks to new funding from the U.S. Geological Survey's Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, which means the observatory can at least gather data after the eruption, he said.

Most of the lava, however, has flowed towards Rwanda and only a small stream is trickling towards Goma, it said.

Mr Peyre-Costa said a number of non-government organisations in the region believe Goma's population is closer to one million.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi made a decision to cut short his trip to Europe and return home on Sunday so he could oversee the coordination of aid to the affected areas, his office announced via Twitter.

Goma is a regional hub for many humanitarian agencies in the region, as well as the United Nations peacekeeping mission known as MONUSCO.

Fifteen were killed, including nine in a traffic accident as residents fled, four who tried to escape Munzenze prison in Goma and two who were burned to death, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said in a statement.

Power was already cut in large parts of the city when hundreds of residents began leaving their homes.

Electricity was cut off in a large part of the city, with thousands of people - encumbered with mattresses, food and parcels - heading towards the Rwandan border.

Volcano watchers have been anxious that the volcanic activity observed in the last five years at Nyiragongo mirrors that in the years preceding eruptions in 1977 and 2002.

Several planes, belonging to Monusco and private companies, took off in the evening, according to an airport source, with a local adding they had also seen the unusual nighttime activity.

In a May 10 report, the Goma Vulcanology Observatory warned seismic activity around the volcano had increased and warranted careful monitoring of a region with six volcanos in all.

Nyiragongo last erupted in 2002, killing 250 people and making 120,000 homeless after lava flowed into Goma. Current assessments indicate eruption doesn't threaten the city itself.

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