People in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) woke up vigorously on Saturday morning as fleeing families seeking refuge in the second volcanic eruption are struggling to find enough food and water.
Many people have died when Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world’s most powerful mountains, was revived last week, sending torrents of lava flow across the nearby city of Goma that destroyed thousands of homes along the way. The eruption was halted along the city limits, but thousands of people fled Thursday as the government warned that the eruption could erupt at any time.
Many people have gone to the town of Sake or to the Rwandan border in the northeast, while others have fled by boat across Lake Kivu. About 10,000 people have fled to Bukavu on the southern coast of the lake, according to Governor Theo Ngwabidje, most of them in the families living with them.
In Sake, 20 miles northwest of Goma, people sleep wherever they can be found – on the side of the road and in the classroom and in the church.
Kabuo Asifiwe Muliwavyo, 36, said he and his seven children had not eaten since arriving on Thursday.
“They told us there was going to be a second explosion and that there would be a major gas explosion,” he told Reuters news agency as he was caught mourning his one-year-old son.
“But since we moved, there’s nothing here … We’re starving.”
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Evacuee Eugene Kubugoo told AFP that the water gives children diarrhea and said: “We have nothing to eat or a place to sleep.”
Hassan Kanga, a lawyer who escaped after the blast, said: “He told everyone that help would be made, that the money would be provided by the government.
“However, you find us under the stars.”
Late Friday, Rwandan President Paul Kagame called for “urgent international help” to address the crisis, with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) saying about 400,000 people need help or protection.
Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF’s representative in the DRC, said: “We have a growing risk of cholera, and we are urgently seeking international help to prevent a catastrophe that could affect children.”
The order was issued Thursday at 1 a.m. after radar footage showed a molten rock moving beneath Goma.
The movement of magma caused cracks and hundreds of earthquakes, which could allow them to explode until a new eruption, says the Goma Volcano Observatory (OVG).
Volcanologists say that the most dangerous event was the eruption beneath the lake. This can release hundreds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that dissolve in water. The air rises to the surface of the ocean, creating an invisible cloud that simply floats and lowers the atmosphere, disrupting life.
But the magnitude of the ground tremor has decreased in the past 24 hours, indicating that the risk of an eruption has dropped, OVG’s Celestin Kasareka Mahinda said on Friday.
“I don’t think we will ever explode again. The problem is the risk of a fracture, but the risk is small, about 20%, “he told Reuters.
Congolese officials, however, reopened the main road that was divided by the lava, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday.
By Friday, almost all shops and banks in central Goma were closed, and only a few people and a motorcycle taxi were on the often busy streets.
In the northern part of the city, small shops were open and crowded, including children gambling near a water truck.
“I live in a city. I know I am on the verge of ruin but I have no reason, ”said Aline Uramahoro, who owns a liquor store. “I’ll go when the ashes begin to spit.”
About 3,500 meters (11,500 feet) high, Nyiragongo crosses the East African Rift tectonic section. Its last eruption, in 2002, killed at least 100 people and the deadliest eruption that killed more than 600 people in 1977.
Herman Paluku, 94, said he had seen them all – and insisted he would not be shaken this time.
“There is a small hill nearby which means that the volcano is inaccessible. And that’s what protects us a little bit, “he said in Swahili, his hands sweeping up.
“I cannot leave here, if that is the case. I can’t. ”