Home International Nyiragongo volcanic eruption death toll hits 15

Nyiragongo volcanic eruption death toll hits 15

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[Locals return to their destroyed homes in Goma after Volcano erupted. Photo/Reuters].

Residents in the Democratic Republic of Congo have returned to their destroyed houses after a large volcano erupted, many are searching for their loved ones.

Mount Nyiragongo turned the sky red and spewed out a river of lava on Saturday, but stopped short of Goma, a city of two million people.

At least 15 deaths have been confirmed, but the number is likely to rise as officials reach the hardest-hit areas.

Nine of the victims died in a traffic accident as people fled.

Four others were killed as they tried to escape a prison while two were burned to death, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said on Sunday.

Children missing

More than 170 children are feared to be missing and 150 others had been separated from their families, according to Unicef, which said centres would be set up to help unaccompanied minors.

The lava halted near Buhene district, on the outskirts of Goma, burying hundreds of houses and even large buildings. Reconstruction efforts are likely to take months.

“All the houses in Buhene neighbourhood were burned,” Innocent Bahala Shamavu told the Associated Press news agency.

Elsewhere, lava crossed one highway connecting Goma to the city of Beni, severing a key aid and supply route. However, the city’s airport was untouched, despite earlier reports that it had been affected.

But tremors had been felt in the aftermath, Mr Muyaya said. “People are advised to remain vigilant, avoid non-essential travel, and follow directions,” he said in a tweet.

History

The volcano, located 10km (six miles) from Goma, last erupted in 2002, killing 250 people and displaced 120,000 people.

Residents started leaving their houses even before the government announced an evacuation plan. At night, crowds were seen fleeing on foot with mattresses and other few belongings.

Rwandan authorities said more than 3,000 people had officially crossed from Goma. Some started to return on Sunday. Others went to higher ground to the west of the city.