Mount Nyiragongo still at risk
Mount Nyiragongo still at risk : The Mount Nyiragongo once again erupted on a fateful Saturday evening. The 22nd of May was another dark day in the Goma town as people deserted their homes and fled to safe zones away from the lava hit places. The people of Goma have since then not seen peace as big numbers are still homeless and living on the support of refugees. The Mount Nyiragongo eruption of 2021 went as far as the Goma International airport borders and the Bunagana Uganda border and displaced thousands of people.
The deaths recorded for this eruption were about 30 individuals and this number was less than the past eruptions of this active volcanic mountain. The last eruption was the 2002 eruption that claimed about 200 lives and displaced thousands of individuals. The 2021 mount Nyiragongo eruption started at about 6pm and this was early enough for people to seek refuge in the safer zones and the situation calmed down at around 4 am. This eruption caught many off guard as the authority in charge of monitoring the volcano was not as active after funding was cut.
2 weeks after the Mount Nyiragongo eruption of 2021, the authority in charge of monitoring the volcano also known as the Goma Volcano observatory have been availed with funds and have kept the general public updated about the occurrences at the volcano. However much the lava has been seen to be solidifying and is no longer a threat, the Goma Volcano observatory has insisted on people avoiding places that have molten rock.
The major concern of the Goma Volcano Observatory is the possibility of lava still being hot underneath the molten rock and this can be a threat. The volcano upon eruption also released toxic gases that can be deadly to humans once inhaled. A few individuals actually lost their lives as they revisited the affected sight for information. There are about 20,000 people who were left homeless after this eruption.
The residents of Goma fled to the neighboring Rwanda and the town of Sake to be far away from the ruins of the lava with some of their personal property. The government sent out an evacuation notice on the 26th of May as the volcano still poses a threat of another eruption. On the 31st of May, the area felt up to 92 earthquakes in 24 hours which shows the activity of the Mount Nyiragongo.
The scientists that are part of the Goma Volcano Observatory went back to the volcano to access the updates on the Mount Nyiragongo and unofficially stated that the lava lake of Mount Nyiragongo is close to empty and this is a sign of no other eruption in the future however it could still be too early to predict such an outcome. For a volcano to be deemed dormant, this would have to be an assessment after a year of an empty lava lake with no lava.
The Goma Volcano Observatory team has been working on the Mount Nyiragongo since 1995 and they say this could possibly be the last eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo.
They still insist on the volcanic eruption of 2021 being an abrupt one even if it was under supervision as there were almost no pre signs of an eruption. The lava flowed through a number of vents and that is where the eruption would start from at different points in the region.
The residents of Goma after 2 weeks have opted to come back home however the government still advises against it until the region is considered safe and the volcano is calm. Gases can still be seen coming out of the volcano. Residents are encouraged if they have to return, they should stay in the Sake town or the western part of the Goma.
The Lake Kivu is also said to have gases underneath it that pose a possible explosion anytime thus advising the people to be patient and vigilant watch the situation. In case of another eruption, about 100,000 children may be displaced and this is still a big possibility after the several earth quakes heard in the region. Earthquakes can lead to a “limnic eruption” and this is when dissolved gases are released in large amounts from deep in Lake Kivu. The lava flowed up to the Lake Kivu region.
This eruption comes at a difficult time where the entire world is in the middle of a pandemic and with this panic, the Congolese are exposed to the virus so they are still encouraged to follow the standard operating procedures to prevent the spread and contraction of this deadly virus. Goma is a town with a heavy deployment of international aid groups or UN agencies but with the care of future eruptions, the staffs have been since flown back to their home countries for safety and this leaves the place in dire.
A big part of the Goma town is still covered in volcanic rocks that solidified after the lava cooled down and this has affected the water supply in the region and electricity is still cut off after the lava burnt the electricity poles down. Also the plants and gardening ground is now useless as you can’t plant or harvest anything.