2021 Mount Nyiragongo Eruption
2021 Mount Nyiragongo Eruption : On the night of 22nd of May 2021, the Goma town was once again hit by another eruption from the Mount Nyiragongo. The Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano that has been known for up to 20 eruptions in the past years. The last recorded eruption of Mount Nyiragongo was recorded in 2002. The biggest scare of the area once again came to pass.
This Saturday night, residents of Goma witnessed a shock of their lives once again after a number of years. Screams were heard all over the town as the Mount Nyiragongo lit the sky red. The past weeks, the Mount Nyiragongo had exhibited signs of an eruption as it was releasing dark fumes from a few vents. Tourism at the Nyiragongo volcano had been halted for a while after the Covid-19 pandemic shut the gates to most tourism sites. The Mount Nyiragongo is located in the Virunga national park of DR Congo. The Virunga national park has been offering successful hikes up the Mount Nyiragongo.
The hike up the 11,500 foot high Mount Nyiragongo is offered as an overnight hike with hikers spending a night up in the cabins at the summit of Mount Nyiragongo. A permit to hike up this active volcano costs 356 USD fully inclusive of accommodation and breakfast with transport for the foreign residents and 146 USD for the DR Congo residents.
The Mount Nyiragongo is just a 15 minutes’ drive from Goma town thus the lava flow reaching the town. A reporter from BBC based in Kinshasha known as Emery Makumeno reported that the lava this time was headed towards the forest and less into the town. Emery went further stating that the lava flow stopped at the Goma international airport which was contradicting with the information that had been passed around earlier.
Some properties in Goma town were destroyed before such as private houses and even a certain graveyard. Few residents of Goma town witnessed this eruption of Mount Nyiragongo and the greatest number had a chance to evacuate in time. There were screams all over the town that attracted a one Richard Bahati who is resident of Goma town. Bahati stepped out of the house to see the reason for the raise of concern and that is when he noticed the sky had been lit red by the volcano just like he had witnessed in 2002.
This eruption was unlike the past as it was abit confusing with less signs in the past days however a big number of people managed to grab a few of their belongings and head towards the Goma Gisenyi border. The locals had little information so they rushed out before the government guided them. There was a lot of traffic jam due to the panic and accidents were a common sighting. Many houses were burnt down and families were displaced as people were seen trekking with blankets and mattresses.
There were an estimated number by the Rwandan authorities of about 8,000 people or more that crossed the borders of Goma to Gisenyi or Goma to Bunagana the Uganda side. The Rwandan authorities helped by the media people went further ahead to report that they would be assisting to shelter the displaced Congolese people in the public places like schools and places of worship for the meantime.
There was an evident electricity blackout in most parts of the town after the eruption with a pungent smell of sulphur in the air and flames could be seen coming out of the mountain. Mount Nyiragongo and the neighboring Mount Nyamulagira are responsible for up to 40 % of the eruptions on the entire African continent. Both Volcanoes are located in the eastern part of the Democratic republic of Congo.
There is a team known as the Goma Volcano Observatory which has been monitoring the volcano in the past but it has been slowed down by the cutting of funds from donors like the World Bank after corruption concerns in the organization. On the 10th of May, the team reported some seismic activity which is usually the before of an eruption. At the end of last year, the director of the observatory had also reported the lava lake refilling at a fast rate so this eruption was abit foreseen but not reported.
The most deadly eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo to be reported was that of 1977 with a reported number of up to 600 deaths. There were 11 people reported by Sunday evening to have lost lives but more information is being collected.
There were four guests at the volcano for the Mount Nyiragongo hike but luckily all managed to get back down to the trailhead in time safely.