Concern Worldwide has evacuated its staff from Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo amid warnings of an imminent volcanic eruption.
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 childrens’ 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.
For media queries contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, at email@example.com or 00 353 87 9880524