At Least 31 People Dead and 30,000 People Displaced after a Volcanic Eruption in Congo

The weekend started off on a tragic note for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo when a volcano erupted, leading to loss of lives, suffering, and many injuries.

On Saturday, Mount Nyiragongo left devastation along its path when it erupted in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). By Monday, the death toll was already sitting at 31.

More than 30,000 people, including children, were displaced from their homes by the natural disaster. Hundreds of children were also feared to be separated or missing from their families.

A cloud of smoke, fire, and ash below from a Hawai'i volcano | Photo: Pixabay/Adrian Malec

A cloud of smoke, fire, and ash below from a Hawai'i volcano | Photo: Pixabay/Adrian Malec

In a statement on Monday, Patrick Muyaya, a government spokesperson, confirmed the current death toll. He admitted that they expected the number to rise as people are searched for.

In an earlier statement on Sunday, the spokesperson revealed how nine victims had died in a car crash fleeing from the natural disaster. Four other people passed away while trying to escape prison.

Two other victims died from being burnt. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), on Saturday, children got lost amid the chaos as people fled Goma, a nearby city.

UNICEF said over 170 children were feared missing while more than 150 others had been separated from their families. About 8,000 people crossed from the DRC into Rwanda seeking refuge after the eruption.

According to a Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) spokesperson, thousands of Goma residents spent Saturday night outdoors following the eruption. On Monday seismic activity continued to be recorded at the volcano.

Those who’ve been evacuated hadn’t been officially advised to return to their homes. According to officials, Saturday night’s eruption of Mount Nyiragongo was the first one in almost two decades.

Mount Nyiragongo is located in the mountains of Virunga National Park. It spewed scorching lava downhill toward Goma, a lakeside city with around two million residents who were less than 10 miles away.

Ernestine Kabuo, 68, sadly lost her sick husband after she wasn’t able to carry me out of their Goma home. The volcano hit her Buhene district home, but the lava stopped short of the city's built-up area.

In April 2021, the Caribbean island of St Vincent saw the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano. The island was covered in a layer of ash and forced over 16,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Experts warned at the time that it was likely that further volcanic eruptions would continue in the coming days. Explosions from the natural disaster caused disruptions in water supplies and power cuts.

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