Experts warn Nyiragongo showing signs of imminent eruption as govt urges calm

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Nyiragongo volcano last erupted in 2002, causing havoc. (Net photo)

Rwanda Red Cross has warned of a possible Nyiragongo volcano eruption in the near future.

Nyiragongo is one of the eight volcanic mountains in the Virunga Massif. The volcano is located near the town of Goma in eastern DR Congo, close to the Rwandan border.

Red Cross researchers on volcanoes report that since February 28, 2016 Nyiragongo volcano increased signs of imminent eruption.

Talking to The New Times last week, Dr Dyrckx Dushime, the head of Red Cross in Rubavu District, said the active volcano has recently released magma from one hole to another of two kilometers that form smoke on the top of it.

“The volcano releases magma from one pit to another of two kilometers but once it gets full the magma will have to come out, but for now it is still early, meaning people should not panic,” Dushime said.

He explained that the volcano now releases polluted gas in the air between 5000 and 50,000 tonnes, per day which include a lot of sand.

He said planes are cautioned against flying over the volcano because it can enter into their engine and cause damage.

Dushime also warned residents in neighbouring areas against using unclean water ,especially from rain and to wash vegetables before cooking.

Frederic Ntawukuriryayo, the communication officer at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, said the ministry is aware of the situation at Nyiragongo volcano and is currently working with stakeholders like OVG and Red Cross to monitor its evolution.

“The information we have so far is that the warning signposts are still in yellow which means that there is no immediate threat and the population can calmly continue to go about their daily activities,” he said.

“A contingency plan on dealing with the effects of possible volcanic eruption has been put in place and tested. It entails coordination mechanisms that can help to effectively respond, in case of an eruption,” he said.

The Nyiragongo volcano last erupted in 2002, causing a lot of damage both in DR Congo and Rwanda. It displaced 400,000 Congolese who relocated to Rwanda.

Red Cross has planned five evacuation routes on Rwandan side and three in DR Congo, Dushime says.

OVB Goma Volcano Observatory says on its website that there is an appearance of a secondary lava lake on the east side of the crater of Nyiragongo.

The manifestations of this new secondary active lava lake are in the extension of the fracture that connects the Nyiragongo to its Baruta adventive cone toward the direction of Kibumba zone in DR Congo, it says.

OVB warns that Nyiragongo volcano is in a phase of intense activity and requires a particular attention.

This activity is concentrated within the central crater towards the East (towards the Kibumba area) where a new secondary lava lake has been observed.

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