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Concern teams ready to respond after Goma volcano forces thousands to flee

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Concern’s teams in the Congolese city of Goma and in neighbouring Rwanda are to ready respond in the wake of the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo last night which forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

The volcano erupted without warning yesterday evening, sparking panic in local villages and among Goma’s two million population.

“We were admiring the beautiful red sky before we realised it was a volcanic eruption,” Concern’s Emergency Programme Manager Alyssia Allen said, who was less than 20 km from the volcano at the time.

“Very quickly the roads were jammed with people carrying all their household belongings as they fled to higher ground or towards Rwanda to escape the lava.”

Panic

“People’s sense of panic was fuelled by their memory of the widespread destruction and loss of life caused by the last major eruption in 2002,” she noted.

As initial assessments got underway in Goma and Rwanda to establish the level of damage done and the needs of those who have fled their homes, Ms Allen confirmed that Concern’s teams were in place to respond.

“All our Goma team are safe after a very difficult night,” Concern’s Country Director in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russell Gates, said. “Our thoughts are with the people of North Kivu and we are already working on how we can support people who lost their homes, in collaboration with the wider humanitarian community and the government,” he said.

For media queries or to arrange media interviews contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, Concern Worldwide, at eamon.timmins@concern.net or 00 353 87 9880524