For immediate release
The Congolese authorities issued an order at 3am today to begin the evacuation of a large portion of the city’s two million inhabitants. It came on the foot of warnings from scientists that a large mass of magma was under the city and the adjacent Lake Kivu, which could erupt suddenly or result in the release of toxic gas.
“Our team in Goma has been evacuated to three locations within the country and neighbouring Rwanda,” Concern’s Regional Director Reka Sztopa said. “Our first priority has been to get people to safety. Once we know how the situation is going to settle we will be able to launch an emergency response from these locations.”
“Thousands of people are evacuating by car, motorbike, boat and on foot, creating traffic jams across the city,” she said. “Local organisations are recommending that parents put their phone number on a piece of paper, and put it in their children’s’ pockets in case they get separated.”
The nearby Mount Nyiragongo erupted on Saturday night, with lava destroying nearby villages and reaching the edge of the city. Goma has been shaken by regular earthquakes each day since then, with some buildings collapsing and large cracks appearing in roads.
The last major eruption occurred in 2002 when over 100 people were killed and 120,000 people were left homeless.
About Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide has been present in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for over two decades, providing both emergency responses and managing development programs. The DRC faces several challenges, including high levels of poverty, continuous armed conflict in many parts of the country, disease outbreaks including the world’s second largest Ebola outbreak, and high levels of food insecurity. Nearly 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to one of the world’s most complex and protracted humanitarian crises.