DR Congo: Goma ‘spared’ as lava from volcano halts outside city

A river of boiling lava from the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo has come to a halt outside Goma, sparing the city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the military governor of the region said on Sunday.

After a volcanic eruption that sent thousands fleeing during the night, “the lava halted near Buhene on the outskirts of Goma… the city was spared,” said General Constant Ndima, adding that, according to a provisional estimate, “five people were killed” in related accidents.

On Saturday, thousands fled during the night and many families slept on pavements surrounded by their belongings under a night sky turned red by fire and fumes.

Officials said the lava had reached Goma city airport although residents said it had stopped at the edge of the facility.

Goma appeared relatively calm as dawn broke, but people said they are still wary.

Residents said there was little warning before the dark sky turned a fiery red, leading to fears that the eruption could cause the same kind of devastation as the last time in 2002 when hundreds died.

On Sunday, residents ventured out to assess the damage after a night of panic. Smoke rose from smoldering heaps of lava in the Buhene area near the city.

Beatrice Katungu, 47, says her husband and eight of her 10 children are missing.Florence Rudasigara, another victim of the eruption, told Al Jazeera no officials have yet come to help her.

“I am a widow. I don’t know where to go. May the government help us. We have not seen any officials come to sympathise with us. We have been abandoned,” Rudasigara said. “We are going to die of hunger. ”

By early Sunday, between 5,000 and 7,000 people had arrived in neighbouring Rwanda, according to the country’s national broadcaster.

The Rwanda Broadcast Agency tweeted photos of those arriving in Rubavu district but said early on Sunday that the evacuees had already begun heading home.

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