Mount Nyiragongo Volcanic Eruption

Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption occurred just over the weekend, on Saturday night of 22nd May 2021, in the early night hours. Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption last occurred in 2002, almost two decades ago. The last Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption claimed almost 250 people, and this ongoing eruption is still causing a whole lot of havoc in the neighbouring towns of Buhene and others. In the night of 22nd May 2021, residents of towns near Mount Nyiragongo say Buhene, Goma were shocked to see red covering the sky, a volcanic eruption taking place just a few kilometres or even meters from them.

These towns were thrown into panic as Mount Nyiragongo, one of the most active and yet dangerous volcanic mountains in world, erupted. Residents saw the sky turning an eerie red with walls of orange lava flowing downhill towards the lakeside. This 2021 mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption left a smoking trail of destruction meters wide, and buried hundreds of houses thereby leaving hundreds of residents searching for missed loved ones.

Fifteen people have been recorded killed so far, with nine of these dying from a traffic accident as they fled the catastrophic incident. The number of dead persons is most likely to rise, given hundreds of residents are searching for their missing relatives, and a number of children are reported missing.

Mount Nyiragongo Volcanic Eruption
Mount Nyiragongo Volcanic Eruption

The Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption of 2021 was caused when fractures opened up in the sides of the volcano, thereby causing lava flows in various directions. By Sunday morning, black gash could be seen in the outskirts of Goma town from where the lava had cooled to rubble. This lava had rummaged through a number of property, including large buildings of up to three storeys. The lava that spewed from the volcano crossed a main road that runs north from Goma, cutting off a key aid and supply route.

Most of the residents experienced the 2002 Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption, and with the gruesome memories still beheld, many were seen fleeing on foot with their few belongings mostly towards the nearby border of The Congo and Rwanda. By Saturday, about 5000 residents had fled the area, as reported by the International Federation of Red Cross. Most of these were peasants and farmers who fled with their livestock. On Sunday however, some people were seen returning to the Congo.

This 2021 Mount Nyiragongo eruption was not prepared for by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The experts, as well as Volcanologists at the Goma Volcano Observatory which also monitors Mount Nyiragongo activity had observed in the past five years activity which resembled that which occurred prior the Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruptions of 1977 and 2002.

Since October 2020 to April 2021 however, the volcanologists would not carry out much activity on Mount Nyiragongo for they lacked internet connection, as well as funding which had been cut by the World Bank over corruption charges.

When internet was put back at the observatory in April of this year, it was rather too late for the experts to make out any conclusive findings given they didn’t have previous data. This therefore resulted into the surprise volcanic eruption of the Nyiragongo Mountain which occurred on Saturday the 22nd of May 2021, in the early hours of the night. As of Monday, volcanic eruption seem to have subsided, thereby having the situation returning to normalcy though a lot of property was destroyed.

Mount Nyiragongo Volcanic Eruption
Mount Nyiragongo Volcanic Eruption

Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Virunga National Park that is famous for mountain gorilla trekking safaris in the Congo. Mount Nyiragongo has had up to 20 volcanic eruptions recorded in the past. This year’s eruption is the latest, and the results so far indicate that no many lives were lost, as compared to the previous Nyiragongo eruption of 2002 which claimed about 250 people and the 1977 Nyiragongo eruption which claimed up to 600 deaths.

Effects of the Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption include;

  • Loss of life. About 15 people have been recorded to have died as a result of the Nyiragongo eruption either directly or indirectly, say the 9 who died from a traffic accident.
  • Loss of property. All houses in the Buhene district which is found in the outskirts of Goma town were burnt down during the Nyiragongo eruption. Many people that fled to neighbouring Rwanda on Saturday night returned to nothing, everything was on the ground
  • Displacement of people. Given that the lava burnt down property including houses, residents of the affected villages are displaced with nowhere to stay, and even have no food.

Mount Nyiragongo is one of the best volcanoes to hike in the world. Hiking Mount Nyiragongo attracts hundreds of travellers every year to Virunga National Park to take a look at the boiling lava lake at the summit of the mountain. With time, when everything is back to normal, travellers can surely hike this active volcano once again, and marvel at its beauty.

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