Volcanic Eruption in DRC Kills 15 People, Forces Thousand to Flee

Mount Nyiragongo in eastern Democratic Republic in Congo suddenly erupted on the night of May 22, killing 15 people and forcing thousands to flee from their homes.

Five of the victims died in a car accident as they tried to evacuate from the volcanic eruption, Norwegian Refugee Council Spokesperson in West and Central Africa Tom Peyre-Costa told CNN.

Four prisoners died when they tried to escape from the Camp Munzenze prison after the eruption and two burned to death, government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya said.

Officials said the death toll is likely to rise as they reach the areas hit hardest by the eruption.

Thousands fled from the city of Goma, which has a population of nearly two million, and about 8,000 have crossed the nearby border into Rwanda, according to Rwanda’s Emergency Management Ministry on May 23.

Over 150 children have been separated from their families and over 170 children are feared to be missing, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reported.

UNICEF also reported that at least 25,000 people were displaced in the town of Sake, 258 kilometers northwest of Goma.

The eruption destroyed around 600 homes and five schools, NRC estimated.

According to local reports, the lava stopped near Buhene district, a few hundred meters away from the city limits of Goma.

The lava, however, crossed a main highway, cutting it off from the north and leaving several people stranded.

According to locals, there was little warning before the eruption. The volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, but the Goma Volcano Observatory had not been properly observing its activity since the World Bank cut funding due to alleged corruption.

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