1 million people living under the threat of Congo’s Mount Nyiragongo volcano

Living in the shadow of oblivion: Mount Nyiragongo steep slopes, combined with the fluidity of its magmatic lava makes the volcano one of the most dangerous in the world.
June 5, 2013CONGO, AFRICAEleven years after an eruption of Mount Nyiragongo devastated the sprawling lakeside city of Goma, killing hundreds of people, eastern Congo’s armed conflict is preventing scientists from predicting the volcano’s next deadly explosion. With its plume of ash and steam reaching high into the sky, the brooding Nyiragongo is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and a constant menace to the city of 1 million people, whose streets are still scarred by solidified lava. Attempts to monitor the volcano’s activity have been dangerously curtailed by the M23 rebel group which has controlled its lush, forested slopes for the past year. Observation equipment has been looted by armed groups and the area around Nyiragongo is off-limits as rebel fighters defend their strategic positions overlooking Goma. “What happened in 2002 will happen again. We just don’t know when,” Celestin Kasereka Mahinda, a volcanologist at the Goma observatory and head of a national committee charged with planning for natural disasters. Kasereka and his colleagues gave two months’ warning before the last eruption but authorities ignored them. People only began to evacuate as the first fingers of lava probed their way into the town’s densely populated residential areas. Goma’s airport is still surrounded by lava blocs as big as cars, excavated after the runway was swallowed by molten rock. Kasereka used to conduct weekly checks on Nyiragongo, one of only three volcanoes in the world to have a permanent lava lake. “Surveillance is very reduced so the risk has become very big,” he said. “The situation is a bit ridiculous.” Goma’s residents are no strangers to danger, natural and manmade. The town sits above a subterranean lava bed 1 km (0.6 miles) deep in an area, known as the Albertine rift, that is one of the most volcanically active on earth. The hazards posed by eruptions like this are unique to Nyiragongo. Nowhere else in the world does such a steep-sided stratovolcano contain a lake of such fluid lava. Nyiragongo’s proximity to heavily populated areas increases its potential for causing a natural disaster. Neighboring Lake Kivu contains enormous quantities of methane and carbon dioxide. Experts say seismic activity could release that into the atmosphere, threatening millions of lives. The makeshift camps which ring the city, home to tens of thousands of people displaced by fighting, testify to the nearly two decades of conflict between armed groups, the army and neighboring countries which have ravaged the region. Militia fighters regularly inflict massacres and mass rapes on the civilian population. Last year, rebels swept past U.N. peacekeepers and routed government troops to briefly seize Goma, and they once again menace the town’s north flank. “We’d prefer gunfire to another eruption,” said Aminata Yahaya, 38. She barely escaped with her children last time the volcano exploded and returned three weeks later to find her home ravaged by fire and looted. Speaking in one of Goma’s ramshackle markets built on an old lava flow, where she sells dried fish, Yahaya said the last eruption had devastated the town. “If there’s another eruption, it’ll hit the economy: we’ll have to start from zero again. Our houses will be destroyed, our people killed,” she said. Joseph Makundi, civil protection coordinator for Goma, accepts that the security situation has increased the volcano’s threat. Not least, he says, is the risk of lava exploding the stockpiles of ammunition which dot the heavily militarized town. –Reuters Alert
This entry was posted in Civilizations unraveling, Earth Changes, Earth Watch, Earthquake Omens?, Environmental Threat, Hazardous chemical exposure, High-risk potential hazard zone, Limnic overturn, Potential Earthchange hotspot, Seismic tremors, Signs of Magnetic Field weakening, Time - Event Acceleration, Volcanic Ash, Volcano Watch. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 1 million people living under the threat of Congo’s Mount Nyiragongo volcano

  1. It is a subject related to the “environmental threat” ….The Lava of the Volcano, together with the ash, and the various “gases” which come out of the “eruption”, can surely have their own impact upon the life in the Congo’s towns and country…not only in their “economy” ,and therefore upon their “development”, but too, upon the “security” problems overthere…The gases from the volcano’s eruption, together with the different kinds of “weapons” used by the authorities, i.e., the “natural disasters”, in a region where the “security” problems have to be observed, can sometimes, influence “mankind”, leading to a “mass destruction”, and to a “social disease” for all the “environment” …..


  2. Irene C says:

    I feel for these poor people. They’re literally caught between a rock and a hard place. But when this volcano blows, the militia fighters will be the first to know, as the lava starts running down the slope; towards their camp.


  3. Alvin, How many volcanic eruptions have we had so far in 2013?

    From my understanding, 50-60 MAX eruptions are the annual average. If I am correct, we have surpassed this by now. J


  4. Thanks for all your diligence in keeping us updated!!


  5. jonny karls says:

    so we had 58 eruptions in 2013 how many have we had in 2014?


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