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Since the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, located about fifteen kilometers from the Congolese city of Goma, on May 22, daily life has been turned upside down between earthquakes, power cuts, lack of water. Many residents are displaced. Our Observers tell how the population faces an unexpected disaster.
During the night of May 22 to 23, the panicked population began to flee to the west or to neighboring Rwanda. She didn’t have not been warned the imminence of the eruption by the volcanological observatory of Goma as it should have been the case, the establishment being closed for lack of funding.
If the lava flows have stopped in the outlying communes of Goma, the inhabitants are on the alert: the repeated earthquakes weaken the buildings, some threatening to collapse. Many families have therefore decided to sleep under the stars.
At least fifteen people have died from the rash, according to one temporary report May 25. Two of them were charred by lava, the others having perished in the panic movement that shook the city: the passengers of a bus and the inmates who tried to escape from the prison.
Since Sunday, May 23, the life of the inhabitants of Goma has been profoundly turned upside down: the national road connecting the city to the rest of the region has been cut off by lava flows, which makes refueling very difficult. Tuesday, May 25, tremors continued to be recorded, although less numerous.
Our Observer, journalist Alain Wandimoyi was able to photograph numerous large and deep cracks in buildings, fences or on city roads on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 May.
“We quickly understood that a long galley was about to begin”
Goma, DR Congo
Our Observer Messenger Takehya Nzanzu, a 24-year-old computer scientist, had to leave his home in Majengo neighborhood on the evening of the eruption.
I started to see people fleeing around 6 p.m. and with my neighbors we formed a group of ten people and left around 10 p.m. in the direction of Sake (23 km west of Goma).
We stopped halfway and slept under the stars. It was really a psychotic scene, people carried their luggage with them, left with their children. And all of a sudden it started to rain, which made it all the more difficult.
In the early hours of Sunday morning I returned home to find a neighborhood spared but deserted by its inhabitants. Three kilometers later, lava had engulfed many homes.
The still steaming lava of the Nyiragongo volcano near Goma, May 23, 2021
We quickly understood that a long galley was about to begin: the electric poles were washed away by the lava, so there is hardly any electricity, drinking water is scarce, the national road has been cut and many people lost their homes.
At home for example there is no more power, fortunately a neighbor has a solar panel and I was able to leave my laptop to charge at his place at night. In the street, we meet a lot of people with their luggage and, fortunately, I was able to see that most of the victims were able to benefit from a solidarity movement and were accommodated with others in Goma.
Since the eruption there are incessant earthquakes. I’m fine, I live in a plank house that won’t collapse[woodenconstructionsasoftermaterialthanconcrete[lesconstructionsenboismatériauplussouplequelebéton[woodenconstructionsasoftermaterialthanconcrete[lesconstructionsenboismatériauplussouplequelebétonabsorb shocks better, Editor’s note]. On the other hand, those who live in dwellings made of durable materials such as concrete, especially in the city center, live in constant fear of having their roof fall on them. Some prefer to sleep elsewhere, even under the stars.
For now, the population is busy reorganizing daily life and managing to recover water and electricity and anticipate the coming crisis. With the road cut, prices are likely to increase and there may be shortages or a resurgence of cholera with all these victims who will often find themselves in crowded housing, in not always ideal hygienic conditions.
The consequences of the eruption of the volcano in Goma, May 25, 2021
Once this panic is over, I think there will be a moment of anger against the Volcanological Observatory which has failed in its mission and put the population in danger. People wonder, discuss.