22nd May 2021 Mount Nyiragongo Eruption .
Mount Nyiragongo Eruption 2021 : On the evening of Saturday 22nd of May 2021, the skies above the Goma town lit up red. The Mount Nyiragongo was once again having an eruption. An eruption is an ejection of lava or molten rock from an active volcanic mountain.
There are a number of reasons why an eruption would happen. Eruptions are mainly a result of seismic activity where the tectonic plates start to pull away and give way for the lava at the bottom to come onto the surface and flow depending on the thickness.
Pressure from beneath the ground can also push the magma to flow through the open vents on to the surface. Excessive pressure may result into a deadly eruption.
The Mount Nyiragongo last had an eruption in 2002 that claimed up to 200 lives of people living and staying around Goma. The 2021 Mount Nyiragongo eruption started in the evening hours and escalated later in the night. The residents of Goma were shocked to see this 2002 horror reoccur after all this time with little to no warning signs.
On the 10th May 2021, the authorities in charge of monitoring the Volcano known as the Goma Volcano Observatory had reported a seismic activity where there were fumes seen coming from the volcano.
The Goma Volcano Observatory is a World Bank funded organization however the funding had been cut due to concerns of corruption in the team and this made the team abit reluctant on monitoring the Volcano thus the sudden response to the eruption.
This same Goma Volcano observatory team led by their director, Katcho Karuma, reported the filling up of the lava lake at a fast rate which depicted a possible eruption in the coming years.
The last eruption of Mount Nyiragongo occurred on 2002 and claimed about 250 lives. This was not the only volcanic eruption that was evidenced at the Nyiragongo Mountain. There have been up to 34 eruptions in the past with the most deadly being the one of 1977 which claimed up to 600 or more people.
The magma that is released from the Nyiragongo volcano is deadly because of the lightness helping it flow at a very fast rate covering a great distance in a short period of time.
The 2021 Nyiragongo eruption was headed more into the forest as compared to the town and this gave people a chance to seek refuge in the neighboring country Rwanda. Families in the panic of evacuating Goma split and children were separated from their parents according to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). They reported up to 150 children separated from their family members and 170 children to be missing.
By Sunday afternoon 23rd May 2021, there were up to 15 deaths recorded and the numbers are suspected to increase. The recorded deaths were actually from the aftermath of the eruption where 9 deaths were accident casualties from the rush moment, four prisoners were killed as they tried to escape and then the other two were burned to death by the lava. This statement was released by the Congolese government spokesman Patrick Muyaya on Sunday.
All the houses in the Buhene district that is found on the outskirts of Goma were gutted down by the fire from the eruption plus the larger building inclusive. Reconstruction and resettlement is far out of the question for now.
The Mount Nyiragongo erupted 10 meters away from the Goma town and the lava stopped flowing at the Goma International airport. The lava at the airport is still said to be active so people in the area should stay on high alert.
The lava flowed on another highway connecting Beni and Goma up to the Bunagana border suspected. The Congolese border later sent out an evacuation plan for the residents of Goma even after some still deserted their homes with some personal properties before the evacuation request was sent out.
A few of the residents like Richard Bahati who witnessed the last 2002 eruption had memory flashes of how it was that year. This experience was so familiar with red glow from the fires from the Mount Nyiragongo and the screams of the people outside along with a power blackout in the Goma town.
The Rwandan border authorities reported about 8,000 refugees from the Goma and went further ahead to offer support to host them at the places of worship and schools for the meantime. Goma city is a city of up to 2 million individuals. Mount Nyiragongo and the neighboring Mount Nyamulagira that are both found in the eastern part of the DR Congo are known to responsible for up to 40% of the volcanic mountain eruptions in the entire Africa making them among the deadliest and most active.
The hike up to Mount Nyiragongo goes for 300 USD and is an activity offered by the Virunga national park. There have been a number of successful hikes up the Mount Nyiragongo and hikes were still ongoing with actually 4 guests on the hike. These 4 guests were able to get back downhill safely and in time so no hikers were injured thanks to the crisis responsive team they had.