More than a thousand people took part Monday in an evacuation exercise triggered by a simulated volcanic eruption endangering Goma, a major city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
At 7:30 am (5:30 GMT), sirens wailed in four northern parts of the city, which lies on the Rwanda border in the path of lava flow from the Nyirangongo Volcano, 20 kilometres (12 miles) to the north.
Previous eruptions have claimed hundreds of lives.
Residents of districts at risk in the capital of North Kivu province were asked to leave their homes and gather three kilometres to the south in the Afia stadium, where white tents were ready for them.
For almost three hours, groups of about 10 to 20 people headed for the stadium in two columns, with possessions ranging from motorbikes to mattresses, kitchenware and prized furniture. They helped children and had domestic animals in tow.
“We’re conducting an exercise to simulate a volcanic eruption in order to show the 500 families who live on the potential paths of lava flow how to behave in the event of major volcanic activity,” the head of North Kivu’s civil protection service, Joseph Makundi, told AFP.