GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo – Volcano is calm now.
Smoke and ash from the cone of Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, instead of molten lava that erupted from its flanks on May 22, killed dozens and destroyed 5,000 homes in nearby Goma .
The tremors and jolts that spread panic in the city, buildings collapsed and the evacuation of people on a large scale has also stopped to a great extent. Scientists who dare to approach the steamy volcano once again say the danger seems to have been averted – for now.
“I’m not ruling out the possibility of another eruption,” volcanologist Dario Tedesco, who has studied Congo’s volcanoes since 1995, told reporters on a Sunday visit to the crater of a nearby, smaller volcano. “But statistically this is very unlikely to happen.”
However, the Congolese government says the region is still on “red alert” and has warned residents to remain vigilant. And for many residents of homeless and hunger-stricken Goma, the crisis is only getting worse.
Aid groups say several million people were displaced by the unexpected eruption of Mount Nyiragongo for the first time in two decades, and another half a million have been displaced. without access to clean water As the lava was poured into the main reservoir of the city.
The homeless sleep in churches, schools or the homes of the local Good Samaritans, while others sleep outside. Many residents say they have barely eaten in the last 11 days. Aid groups have warned of a possible cholera outbreak.
“We brought with us what we can eat,” Charmante Kiwara Sivivaha, 23, said in an interview in the classroom, where she is sleeping on a concrete floor with her 4-month-old daughter. Not enough.”
Ms Sivivaha shares her cramped shelter with 40 others in Sake, 12 miles northwest of Goma. But she doesn’t want to go home because she fears another explosion, and because she’s heard the government’s ominous warnings of possible mass poisoning.
Scientists have warned that a second eruption of Mount Nyiragongo could also set off a “limnic eruption”—a rare event that, in the case of Goma, was a huge spurt of harmful gas from the depths of nearby Lake Kivu, engulfing the city. You will see the clouds. And many of its residents were suffocating.
In addition, noxious fumes have been released in recent days from the depths of the nearby small volcano Nyamulgira, which last erupted in 2011, prompting fears that it may also blow up.
“I am mostly afraid of gas,” said Ms. Sivivaha. “But earthquakes are also very scary.”
Thousands of UN and humanitarian workers were evacuated from Goma, many across the border into Rwanda, with those displaced by the blast mostly fending for themselves. Aid groups have appealed for supplies of emergency relief aid.
Magali Raudaut of the medical group Doctors Without Borders listed the needs, saying, “Jerrycans for food, toilets, shelter, blankets and water.”
One lakh residents fled Goma after the May 22 eruption. But in recent times, some residents have begun to return home, and a semblance of normality has returned to parts of the lakeside town, which lies at the center of a vast area rich in mineral wealth but seemingly Happens to be plagued by endless conflicts.
Music rumbles from the city’s nightclubs again, and some of its raucous bars have reopened. Coltan, a valuable mineral used to make mobile phones and other electronics, and found in abundance in the surrounding countryside, has resumed mining.
The orgy of violence has also started again. The United Nations said Sunday that at least 55 people were killed in attacks on two villages about 200 miles north of Goma. It was the deadliest day of violence in the region in at least four years.
Some local officials blamed the attack on the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist insurgent group with links to the Islamic State. but the officials kivu security tracker, which has mapped violence in eastern Congo since June 2017, said the attacks could also be caused by ethnic tensions.
In a statement on Tuesday, a local community group accused armed members of the Banayabvisha ethnic group of violence.
The confusion was a measure of the vastness of the region, the abundance of armed groups operating there, and the challenge faced by the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in eastern Congo, which has a major base in Goma.
After the final eruption of Nyiragongo in 2002, which killed 200 people and left over 100,000 homeless, it took years to rebuild damaged homes, roads and infrastructure in Goma.
This time around 1,400 children were separated from their families, according to the United Nations Children’s Agency. However, at least 900 have been reunited with their parents, including 5-year-old Chiza Matondo.
For several days after the explosion, Chiza’s brothers roamed the neighborhood, calling out his name through a bullhorn. Their parents searched for centers where lost children were being registered and sheltered, becoming more distressing with each passing day.
Finally, after six days, the Red Cross reunited Chiza with her family.
“I just wanted to laugh and put her on my back,” said her aunt Nyota Matondo. “We are very happy now.” The boys’ father was absent, he said, as he had gone to buy an animal to be slaughtered in the festival.
“A hen, or maybe even a goat,” she said.
Finbar O’Reilly reported from Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Declan Walsh from Nairobi, Kenya.
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