27th May, 2021 “Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuating the city of Goma during a mass exodus today in fear of what could happen with the nearby Mount Nyiragongo volcano. A worsening series of tremors has terrified people over the last few days. The governor of the province has now ordered the evacuation of people from the city warning that lava had been detected under Goma and nearby Lake Kivu. The fear is that tremors could lead to a fresh eruption of the volcano – that last erupted on Saturday night - or even set off a chain reaction leading to the release of large amounts of poisonous methane gas from the lake alongside the city. If that happens the gas could prove deadly.
"People have been fleeing in all four directions, including into Rwanda, if they are able. There has been a huge panic and now the roads are clogged with traffic and people on foot. Many thousands of people will be sleeping outdoors and will have almost no access to water, food and toilets. We ourselves have had to evacuate our Goma-based staff to ensure they and their families are safe.
"The humanitarian community is now mobilising to meet this massive sudden need. World Vision in Rwanda has today been purchasing aid and will start our response operations in Rubavu, on the Rwanda side of the border, where thousands have gathered. World Vision’s aid will be focused on meeting the most urgent needs of the displaced, with a special focus on children. We'll also be coordinating closely with other agencies to make sure that aid provided is well-planned.
"I can’t think of another emergency in recent years where a city has been forced to evacuate en masse in a day. We know this is going to be an extremely challenging few days and hope that the volcano does not erupt again causing lava flows to pour through the city as they did in 2002. The potential destructive power of this volcano makes it one of the most dangerous in the world.”
Notes to editor
For further information please contact: Geoffrey Denye, Emergency Communications Specialist, World Vision, Eastern DRC. firstname.lastname@example.org +243 974586286
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