Nyiragongo Volcano Eruption 2002 | John Seach
Democratic Republic of Congo

The 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo volcano was the world's most dramatic example of a lava flow through a major town.

The 2002 eruption of Nyiragongo volcano lasted for one day, destroyed 15% of Goma, including part of the international airport and the business centre. Tens of thousands of people were made homeless and 400,000 people evacuated. The eruption was triggered by tectonic spreading of the Kivu rift causing the ground to fracture and allow lava to flow from ground fissures out of the crater lava lake and possibly from a deeper conduit near Goma.

The eruption was preceded months beforehand by increased fracturing and fumarolic activity on the upper southern slopes of the volcano and an increasing level of seismicity, especially between 4th and 17th January 2002. New fumarolic activity was observed in Shaheru crater and from new cracks in the inner walls of the Nyiragongo crater following the 7 October 2001 earthquake. A rapid exodus of people occurred from Goma when lava vents were seen to develop within the city in advance of the main lava flow. The vents were located at the roundabouts at Seigners and Bralima, 500 m from the end of the airport runway.

Lava flows created fires in the commercial centre. There were audible explosions, possibly as cars and petrol stations exploded. In January 2002, the opening of fissures lower down and directed towards Goma may reflect a new evolution for the volcano with eruptions caused by rifting.

The future hazard for Goma and Lake Kivu is for lava to be erupted from a magma chamber or deep conduit in an extension of the rifting. This type of eruption would be more dangerous than either the 1977 or January 2002 events.

Reports of 2002 Eruption of Nyiragongo by John Seach.

Aid Continues in Goma
Monday 25th February 2002
More than a month after Nyiragongo volcano sent three huge lava flows into the city of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), local residents are still struggling to recover. Thousands remain homeless and are in need of food, health care and assistance in rebuilding their homes. Two of the city's four hospitals, three out of the 11 health centers and 80 out of Goma's 150 pharmacies were simply buried under two meters of lava.
The DR Congo government is expected to select a relocation site — most likely outside the city limits — for the tens of thousands of homeless people now living in Goma.
In Goma, scientists say the population remains at risk of further volcanic eruptions. Although the lava flow ended a few days after Jan. 17, it could recur at any time. Large fissures have developed along the slopes of Mount Nyiragongo, prompting fears that lava and toxic gases could be released and cause even more damage than the last eruption.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Tuesday 29th January 2002 
1. On January 28, a flight allowed the volcanologists to reach Nyiragongo main crater and make observations of the inner part of the summit crater. It was confirmed that more than 600 metres of the crater floor almost completely collapsed. There was no activity nor fumaroles at the bottom of the crater, however CO2 was present. Few weak steam vents were visible on the inner crater wall. The volcano was perfectly clear and a small gas plume could be seen above the crater rim to the NorthEast. Dead trees on the northern outer slope of the crater were observed as well as evidence of slumping of the upper parts of the crater. Non eruptive fractures are visible all around the crater at different heights. Several non-eruptive fractures have been noted on the southeastern flanks near the site of Kibati. 
2. Part of the volcanologist team went to about 10 km west of Goma along the Lake Kivu shore, where three persons who witnessed events on January 20 and 21, were interviewed and reported an increase in lake temperature, the presence of bubbling gases, dead fish and a brown discoloration rising from the bottom of the lake. It is estimated that the shoreline subsided by about 5-10 cm. Subsidence of the shoreline has also been observed in front of the lava flow that entered the lake in Goma itself. Gas samples will be collected on this site. Gas samples and thermal waters discharges were collected at Rambo springs about 400 metres from the Bralirwa (Rwanda) along the lake, 8 km East of Gisenyi. Samples of water and gas were collected for analysis at Cap Rubona where a pipeline, installed about 10 years ago, extracts gas from the lake Kivu at a depth of 320 metres. 
3. A field team studied in detail the system of normal faults and fractures from Monigi to the North over about 3 km. Observers confirmed fractures formed on the morning of January 17 and expanded southward. Lava flows emitted from the main fracture in several places. At several locations, steam vents produced small explosions. Steaming and high heat flow is present in the area. Numerous houses in the villages of Kasenyi and Bugara (at least 600 people live there) collapsed, others are crossed by the still active fault system. The Mugara cinder cone has been cut by the graben system to the West and shows evidence of significant instability. 
4. On January 28, three shocks were felt, between 4 and 8 km North of Goma centre. The alert level remains Yellow. Seismic and other measuring equipment continues to arrive. 

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Monday 28th January 2002 
There are unconfirmed reports of new fissures opening or existing fissures expanding in areas north of Goma, according to USAID/OFDA field reports. A seismologist from Japan has arrived to assist the team of volcanologists at Goma in identifying the cause of continuing geologic activity, and to assess possible risks to populations in the area. 
Each day there are several incidents of unruly crowds at the eleven food and non-food item distribution points in Goma and Sake. Implementing agencies are working with local authorities to better manage the crowds.
Numbers Affected by the Eruption:
Total Affected: Approximately 350,000 (U.N.)
Deaths: Approximately 147 (U.N. and USAID/OFDA field reports)
Displaced People: Approximately 30,000 (USAID/OFDA field reports)
Homes destroyed: 12,500 households (60,000 to 80,000 people) (USAID/OFDA field reports) Background: Mt. Nyiragongo erupted at approximately 9:30 AM local time (2:30 AM EST) on January 17. The volcano produced three paths of lava, one of which headed toward the city of Goma, 18 kilometers to the south. A fourth fissure opened at 4:00 PM on January 17. The area had been experiencing tremors intermittently since March 2001. The most recent eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo was in 1977, when the lava flow covered 20 square kilometers, killed 2,000 people, and destroyed 400 houses and a 10-kilometre section of road. 

Earthqaukes Foretold Nyiragongo Eruption
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
1.52 S, 29.25 E, summit elevation 3469 m, stratovolcano
Sunday 27th January, 2002
Two seismological stations on Mount Nyiragongo gave several days advance warning of the volcano's eruption, scientists working in the area say.
But the lack of a functioning government in the war-torn region may have prevented the evacuation of the nearby city of Goma.
For the past decade, a Japanese team has sought to maintain a seismic network at the volcano. In 1994, five monitoring units were donated by the US Geological Survey's Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) to form the Goma Volcano Observatory.
But fighting in the area and looting of equipment by armed militia camped on the volcano itself regularly forced volcanologists to flee.
According to the VDAP, only two monitoring stations were working properly before the eruption. VDAP scientists nevertheless received a warning on 12 January - five days before the first eruption. Efforts were made to raise the alarm, but the lack of governance in Goma makes it unlikely that any plan to evacuate the city could have been implemented.
Last week's eruption was the largest in the volcano's history, according to geological evidence.
Predicting future eruptions of an active volcano such as Nyiragongo will require a far more elaborate monitoring system than the two stations currently in place.

Goma Still at Risk
Saturday 26th January 2002
Nyiragongo Volcano Disaster (Democratic Republic of Congo)
1.52 S, 29.25 E, summit elevation 3469 m, stratovolcano.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
One vulcanologist said he would advise against rebuilding Goma at its present location, due to the danger of further eruptions. However, he and other colleagues concurred that they could only offer scientific advice. Politicians, they said, would have to take the decision on an evacuation. 
The scientists confirmed that the ash observed in Goma on Wednesday was most likely from the collapse of the inner crater of Mt Nyiragongo. They said the continuing earth tremors were due to gases, fluid magma moving underground; magma mixing with the underground water table; and activity deep beneath the earth's surface. 
Gases detected in Goma, they said, were from decomposing bio-matter trapped within the hardening lava; petrol stations buried under the lava; and work crews cutting passages through the crusted surface lava.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
1.52 S, 29.25 E, summit elevation 3469 m, stratovolcano
Saturday 26th January 2002 
1. The seismic activity remained relatively constant and unchanging. The three seismic measuring devices currently in place indicate that Goma is on top of the epicenter of subterranean activity. The activity appears to be occurring close to the surface, a theory supported by surface fractures and gas emissions. It is believed that continuing shocks are due to several activities: magma fluid moving underground; gases moving, rising to the surface; or magma fluid interacting with underground water table - which would explain the large amount of gas that has risen to the surface, transported in steam. Activity from deep beneath the earth's surface is also another possibility. 
2. The gas present in the city of Goma is not emanating from the lake, in which gases such as CO2 are dissolved in water within strata at a depth of 500 m to 200 m. Rather, the gas most likely comes from decomposing biomass trapped within the lava, along with other harmless gases. The volcanologists noted that one of the primary gases present, methane, does not accumulate in the air, but disperses gas detected in town could also be due to gas stations that were buried under the lava, or to digging taking place in lava, especially to open roads between the east and west of city. 
3. The ash observed in Goma on Wednesday (OCHA Situation Report No. 7 paragraph 1 refers) likely came from the collapse of the inner crater of Mt. Nyiragongo. According to the volcanologists conclusions, the most recent eruption has been building for at least one year. They also stated that this latest volcanic activity was relatively small. Magma eruptions are possible throughout the region. Lower Gisenyi as well as Goma are at risk. 
4. Three teams of experts/volcanologists will be traveling to analyze gases being released, to observe the crater, review film footage of crater taken on the 24 of January and observe the massive surface fractures 
5. UN agencies estimated that a total of 100,000 lost their homes in this crisis. In the area of Bukavu, figures of the displaced people are as follows (OCHA DRC) : in Minova 7,000 persons,- of whom 1,000 have stated they wish to go to Bukavu; 2,000 in Masisi town; 500 in Nyamasasa: and 252 in Mukwindja. Immediate needs were identified as follows: food, medication, non-food items, and transport. 131 non-accompanied children were counted along the Goma-Bukavu axis. 57 non-accompanied children were counted in Bukavu. 
6. Within ten days, the entire water network of Goma should be operational.
7. At 11 sites, families were provided each with two blankets, 1 kg of soap, 1 jerry can, and 1 plastic sheet. All families in Goma will receive this preliminary kit of non-food items. Later, a more targeted distribution to homeless families will be conducted, including goods such as cooking utensils, plastic sheets, jerry cans and blankets. Distribution of plastic sheets took place during the days immediately following the crisis. 

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
1.52 S, 29.25 E, summit elevation 3469 m, stratovolcano
Saturday 26th January, 2002
General: Experts working with OCHA appear to be in agreement that further eruptions are unlikely and Goma has been officially declared safe. However, there is reported activity from Nyamuragira the volcano some distance from Nyragongo. There are ongoing tremors over 4.3 on the Richter scale and the possibility of earthquake activity above that level is possible. There is also a small possibility that dangerous gases could form. About 35% of the town is now reported destroyed. Water supplies, reinforced by the ICRC, are partially operational and the water quality is acceptable and there is no concern at this stage over there being sufficient supplies for the population. Electricity is available in a limited area of the town. Some 13/15 health care centers as well as three hospitals are operational. Contrary to some reports there are no confirmed cases of cholera. However, diarroehal and respiratory infections are on the increase. The general health status is acceptable but monitoring continues. Bulldozers are endeavoring to clear pathways through the lava. and OCHA reports 2,100 metres of the 3,300 metre-long Goma airport runway is available and small planes have been reported to have been landing. However at the time of reporting, it officially remains closed but planes up to the size of a C 130 could land once permission is given. Jet Al fuel is available. The airstrip is considered suitable for DC-3s and Hercules aircraft. 
Population Movements: The city population is increasing as displaced people return to Goma. Red Cross assessment teams say such movements make it difficult to supply accurate figures but it is estimated that 300,000 were displaced by the eruption. USAID/OFDA estimates of the number of displaced elsewhere are as follows: in Goma suburbs (62,5000); Sake, DRC (5,000); Rutshuru, DRC (5,000); displacement camps near Gisenyi, Rwanda (15,000 and steadily decreasing); Bukavu, DRC (11,000); surrounding areas (30,000) in towns on the southeastern shore of Lake Kivu (up to 60,000); and in six sites near the northwestern shore of Lake Kivu, near Sake (up to 60,000).

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Friday 25th January, 2002
Total Affected: Approximately 350,000 (U.N.)
Deaths: Approximately 147 (U.N. and USAID/OFDA field reports)
Displaced People: Approximately 250,000 (USAID/OFDA field reports.
A survey by relief agencies determined that there were approximately 229,000 people in Goma on January 23. The city population is increasing as displaced people return to Goma. 
The water distribution network currently services between 30 and 40 percent of the city, mostly in western parts of Goma. Twenty water purification stations have been established along the shore of Lake Kivu in areas where the water system does not reach. 
The Goma airport tower is considered inoperable due a risk of gas explosion. However, a local carrier is planned to resume regular flights from the airstrip on Monday, January 28. 
Electricity is available in most of western Goma and the commercial center. The residential area in eastern Goma, where 15 percent of the population lives, does not have electricity. 
Mt. Nyiragongo erupted at approximately 9:30 AM local time (2:30 AM EST) on January 17. The volcano produced three paths of lava, one of which headed toward the city of Goma, 18 kilometers to the south. A fourth fissure opened at 4:00 PM on January 17. The area had been experiencing tremors intermittently since March 2001. The most recent eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo was in 1977, when the lava flow covered 20 square kilometers, killed 2,000 people, and destroyed 400 houses and a 10-kilometre section of road. 

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Thursday 24th January, 2002
Incessant earthquakes are still occuring and are wreaking their own damage and posing new concerns. According to the latest report from Professor Wafula considerable damage was reported in the DRC town of Katale, aside from that dramatic quake, less serious but nevertheless disconcerting shocks were felt late Tuesday (430 PM) and Wednesday morning (10 AM). Epicentre of the quakes has not determined yet. Professor Wafula reported "This earthquakes seem to be heading eastwards, because when I called someone in Ruhengeri (a Rwandan town 50 kilometres/30 miles east of Gisenyi) he felt it a few seconds after we did" in Goma" - "shock was also felt very strongly in Bukavu," 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Goma and also on Lake Kivu. The previously molten centre of the encrusted lava flow that cuts Goma in two was now hardening and that less lava was falling into Lake Kivu, just south of the town, than before. As a result chances were diminishing that the lava would react with dissolved methane and carbon dioxide at the deep bottom of the lake, an eventuality that might send these gases to the surface. About the previous information concerning new activity in the area , Professor Waffula voiced doubt over reports of another volcanic eruption Tuesday night, at the nearby Mount Nyiamuragira. A scientist team had a look at both of them (Nyimuragira and Nyiragongo) yesterday afternoon and there was nothing. The team is waiting for a helicopter to look again and when they determine what is going on, they will make a full report. The reported and unconfirmed eruption of Nyimuragira was not thought to pose a threat to Goma or Gisenyi. 

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Thursday 24th January, 2002
Moderate shocks continued late Tuesday, 22 January and Wednesday, 23 January. At least 25 buildings were destroyed in Gisenyi, due to seismic activity, USAID/OFDA reported. There were reports of another volcanic eruption at Mount Nyimuragira, a neighbouring volcano (14 km northwest of Nyiragongo), that had erupted in February 2001. While no visual confirmation of the eruption has taken place, ash deposits have been noted. 
Volcanologists in and around Goma reported that the current lava flow or any future lava flow of this magnitude is highly unlikely to trigger the release of methane and CO2 that is trapped at the bottom of Lake Kivu. In principle, there is a risk that the formation of an underwater crater could trigger releases of gases, but the likelihood of this risk can not be assessed at this juncture. 
The current estimate of the number of the displaced is around 250,000, out of some 350,000 affected population (the UN and USAID/OFDA). 
Water from Lake Kivu poses no health threat to population. 30% of water sources are restored in Goma and most of the town is expected to have had access to water by the evening of 22 January. Although current water filtration systems are capable of providing potable water, distribution system, especially pipes, has sustained damage. 

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Thursday 24th January, 2002
According to reports from news and government agencies, the eruption at Nyiragongo that began on 17 January appeared to have stopped by 21 January. During the eruption lava flowed from fissures on the volcano's S and E flanks, moving towards the S. Lava flows cut directly through the city of Goma (~10 km S of the volcano) and continued onward to enter Lake Kivu. A 100-m-wide delta formed where lava entered the lake. Various reports estimated that lava flows had destroyed 25-75% of the city including ~10,000 homes. The buildings at the Goma airport remained intact, but lava covered ~80% of the airstrip rendering the airport inoperable.
Residents of Goma were evacuated after the eruption was underway. Reports of the number of deaths and injuries vary; most reports state ~45 people died, possibly as a result of remaining in their homes which burned or collapsed. In addition, 50-100 people were killed when hot lava caused gas station tanks to explode at 0830 on 21 January. A total of ~400 people suffered from injuries including burns. Beginning around 19 January many Goma residents returned to the city; field reports from USAID/OFDA staff stated that on the morning of the 20th more than 15,000 people per hour returned, while only 3,000 people per hour fled the city. By the 21st there were ~12,000 homeless families in Goma. 
Press accounts indicated that volcanologists tentatively suggested that Nyiragongo's volcanism was due to seismicity producing fissures up to several km in length along the E African rift, allowing magma to reach the surface. After observing the volcano on 21 January volcanologists stated, "The current phase of the active eruption is finished. The volcano is quiet." Although no new lava flows were threatening the city, some scientists feared that lava entering the lake or seismic activity could perturb the lake sufficiently to release significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane gas lying at the bottom of the lake. On the other hand, news interviews quoted Jaques Durieux, a French volcanologist working with the UN, as saying, "There is no reason for the methane and carbon dioxide to rise to the surface."
According to Bruce Presgrave of the USGS, National Earthquake Information Center there have been an unusual number of tectonic earthquakes in the Goma-Nyiragongo region since ~9 hours after Nyiragongo's alleged initial lava flows at 0500 local time on 17 January. The sequence included ~100 earthquakes of M 3.5 or larger. The largest earthquake to date was M 5; it struck around 1.76°S, 29.08°E at 0014 on 20 January. According to news reports, several earthquakes were of sufficient magnitude to have been felt in the Goma region.
As of 22 January, no new lava flows had been reported, although lava slowly flowed into Lake Kivu and seismic activity continued. In addition, analysis of lake chemistry found the city's main water supply had remained potable.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Wednedsay 23rd January, 2002
Aid workers were setting up water distribution systems and planning to start delivering food on Wednesday in Goma, where tens of thousands fled the streams of lava that cut through the lakeside city from Thursday's eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. An estimated 90,000 people remain homeless. Tens of thousands have fled the city, seeking shelter with families and friends in other Congolese towns and villages. More than 100,000 fled to villages west of Goma, 12,000 to south to Bukavu and about 40,000 remain in Rwanda. Many have returned, refusing to enter refugee camps in Rwanda and determined to start all over again, using the scraps of the destroyed buildings. About 90 percent of Goma's business district was consumed by lava when Mount Nyiragongo, 12 miles to the north, erupted, sending huge lava flows through the city and cutting it in half. Goma was one of the few centers in eastern Congo with a functioning economy, and the destruction of its business and inventories spells hardship for all for the foreseeable future. Electricity has been restored to the city and, ironically, the water of Lake Kivu was now safer to drink following the eruption, because the lava heated it to the point where most of the parasites were killed.

Lone Congolese Volcanologist, working without pay, predicted eruption
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Wednedsay 23rd January, 2002
Dieudonne Wafulah recognized all the signs: the earthquakes, the smoke, the change in the crater's shape. Mount Nyiragongo, the mountain the volcanologist had studied for 15 years without pay, was about to blow. In October, an earthquake hit Goma, and a volunteer observer on the side of Nyiragongo reported deep vibrations under the mountain and black smoke above it. A survey team went to take a look: the shape of the lava pool inside the crater had shifted, and it was getting higher. On Jan. 4, it happened again. This time it was worse. 
Wafulah sent his first e-mail to international authorities on Jan. 8, raising the alarm of an imminent eruption. The United Nations and the French Group for the Study of Active Volcanoes agreed to fund a large survey team to take more readings. And just minutes after he had picked up the funds to launch a survey team, he got word that 11,381-foot Nyiragongo was disgorging hundreds of millions of cubic yards of lava onto Goma, 12 miles away and home to half a million people. (AP)
In a recent issue of a monthly Goma newspaper (before the January 17 eruption), Wafula warned local residents that they could expect an eruption in coming weeks. He said he made his prediction after observing that there was 10 times more lava in the volcano's crater than in 1977, when Nyiragongo erupted and killed hundreds of people. After small earthquakes rocked the area early this month, Wafula said, he knew that the eruption was just days away. Wafula, 48, has been tracking Nyiragongo and a nearby volcano since the 1970s. Over the years, his monitoring equipment has been stolen and vandalized, yet he has persisted. Asked whether the authorities and Goma residents would heed his warnings next time, he chuckled and said: "Certainly. They'll have to."

Goma Declared Safe
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Wednedsay 23rd January, 2002
Jacques Durieux, a volcanologist at the French Group for the Study of Active Volcanoes, said there were no indications of an imminent eruption and that all lava flows had stopped. 
"The active phase of the volcanic eruption is finished," said Durieux, who was contracted by the UN to assess the situation. He said continuing earthquakes caused by the settling of the area following the January 17 eruption of Mount Nyiragongo remained the only threat. He said most of the buildings in Congo were simple structures and thus resistant to earthquakes. 
In Goma, residents scoured the hardened lava slabs for scorched sheets of corrugated iron for roofs for makeshift dwellings. Lava destroyed about 40% of the town at the head of Lake Kivu, but on Monday the streets once again teemed with people and many shops were open. 
The Red Cross delivered chlorine to one of Goma's water treatment plants and Goemans said the water was free of harmful bateria but mineral tests were still being run. 
Dieudonne Wafula, a Congolese volcanologist who has been studying the Nyiragongo for 15 years, said the volcano 20km north of Goma should now stop erupting for a few years, but earth tremors may intensify over the forthcoming days. 
"The volcano has got rid of its lava, but the tectonic plates of the Rift Valley still need to regain their stability, this is why they are moving now," Wafula said. 
Volcano expert Durieux praised Wafula, who had predicted the eruption in an e-mail two days before it happened. But because of poor communications, word never reached most residents. 

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Wednedsay 23rd January, 2002
The situation as of 18:00 hours Geneva time 22/01/2002 indicates some modification in volcanic activity. UN OCHA reports expert evaluations that there is a diminished flow of lava from Nyiragongo and the risk of dangerous gases, explosions form gas or activity in the lake is not highly likely. Nonetheless, continuing seismic activity is reported by Federation/Rwandan Red Cross (RRC)/ICRC teams in Goma and Gisenyi. A serious accident occurred killing dozens of Congolese when a fuel tanks erupted, demonstrating the continuing risks. Latest surveys also indicate that considerably less of the town was destroyed than originally feared, perhaps 40%, which in part explains the return of tens of thousands to reclaim their homes. The security situation is still fragile but has been reinforced by the authorities with harsh punishment threatened for looting. 
Almost all of the original displacement of over 350,000 Goma residents to Rwanda has been reversed. As of this morning an estimated 90% of the population is struggling to reestablish some semblance of life in the devastated town. Red Cross teams indicate a determination to remain at all costs. In Rwanda, the Federation team reports only around 60,000 people needing assistance. The Federation /RRC will continue to address the needs of those assigned to them.
Three hospitals are functioning in Goma and the health situation, while of concern, also remains manageable at present. The water situation appears to be better than expected with about 60% of systems repairable or partially functioning. The quality is poor but manageable and water quality tests would indicate that lake water can be pumped into the system and treated for distribution. The ICRC is currently focusing on water assistance. 
An outbreak of cholera reports unconfirmed, possibly exaggerated. Coordination in Goma is also chaotic, though security appears better than reported in media. There are an increasing number of NGOs arriving but many are without operational support.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Tuesday 22nd January, 2002
The Nyiragongo volcano, situated in Democratic Republic of Congo (1.5S, 29.3 E) near the border with Rwanda and only 10 kilometers from the town of Goma, is known as one of Africa's most active volcanoes. Since the morning of 17 January 2002, lava flow was observed on the Rwanda side of the volcano and on the Congolese side, and has reached the town of Goma since then. The lava advanced rapidly and as of 20 January, the lava flow divided the town of Goma into three sectors. Many fuel depots exploded, causing fires in Goma and surrounding villages.It is estimated that 40% of Goma town has been destroyed. Many buildings suffered damage from earthquakes and tremors. Densely populated residential areas and the business centre have been particularly affected. Dense ash and smoke were present with the lava flows and small fires continue throughout the town with smell of gas reported. The lava flow eventually reached the lake Kivu and subsequently the lake changed colour and its temperature has reached 40 degrees Celsius. Fish have been reported floating dead in the water. While the seismic situation appears to be stabilising, further eruptions are feared, possibly under the lake. With a number of large cracks present in Goma, the risk of rapid release of CO2/methane gas remains a major concern and a potential threat to the population. 
It was estimated that Goma had a total population of between 400,000 - 500,000 before the volcano eruption. It is estimated that approximately 350,000 people were affected by the disaster. Some sought refuge in Rwanda, and others fled towards the west, into DRC (towards the town of Sake). A number remained in Goma. Several thousands of families are reported to have settled in Bukavu. However, all populations that had moved to Gisenyi have returned to Goma, with the exception of those who settled in Mudende and Nkamira camps, Rwanda. Population movement between Gisenyi and Ruhengeri has stopped. There are currently between 4000 to 5000 persons in Ruhengeri. The humanitarian community will remain vigilant in case of further seismic activity which might force the population to flee once again. Agencies have been continuously assessing the situation on the ground. Almost all the population of Goma has been adversely affected by the Nyiragongo volcano activity. Some lost their houses, other fled to neighbouring Rwanda or to western DRC. Disruption in economy trade has taken place and food supply lines have been cut. This preliminary alert targets 350,000 affected people and estimates are calculated on the basis that Goma population totals 400,000 inhabitants for a period of 7 to 15 days. 

Volcano Refugees Enter Uganda
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Tuesday 22nd January, 2002
Thousands of Congolese refugees, who were reportedly blocked from entering Uganda, have finally been allowed in. The order to allow them cross into Uganda was given by Kabale Resident District Commissioner James Mwesigye after consultations with the authorities in the capital Kampala and the district security committee. 
"These people are not a security threat to Uganda, they are just fleeing for their lives and escaping the volcanic eruptions. Nobody should stop them from entering Uganda," Mwesigye was quoted as saying. Those who had no money for transport were allowed to camp at a primary school playground as the government organized means to take them back to their country. At least 45 people had died and tens of thousands had been left homeless by lava flows from the 3,469-meter-high Mount Nyiragongo, just 10 kilometers north of Goma since last Thursday.

100 Killed in Goma as Lava Ignites Petrol Depot
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Tuesday 22nd January, 2002
A petrol depot swamped in molten lava exploded in Goma Monday, leaving as many as 100 people dead in a city left in ruins after a volcano eruption last week. 
Looters were siphoning fuel when the station ignited, belching a ball of fire and thick black smoke into the sky over Goma, where rivers of lava have gushed through the city since Thursday's eruption of Mount Nyirangongo. The tragedy unfolded as residents kept returning to the city in search of food and water despite warnings from aid agencies that Goma was not yet safe. 
"The current phase of the active eruption is finished. The volcano is quiet," said volcanologist Jacques Durieux. Asked whether it was now safe for residents to return, he said: "That is an impossible question. My recommendation is not to live on the foot of any active volcano." 

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Tuesday 22nd January, 2002
The seismic situation appears to be improving, with the last major tremor reported early on 20 January. The risk of a rapid release of CO2/methane gas remains a major concern and potential threat to the population. Moreover, Lake Kivu contains large amounts of CO2 which could partially degas and build up an invisible carbon dioxide cloud which could, at times, fill the air, according to some experts. Two volcanologists and one geochemist are expected to assess the situation further during the course of today. 
As of afternoon of 20 January, three lava streams that split the town of Goma into three, continued smouldering in certain areas, while many areas had cooled to the point where people managed to climb over them. Small fires continue burning throughout Goma town, with smell of gas reported. At the Goma airport, buildings remain entirely intact, however the runway was partially covered. The Gisenyi airport in Rwanda is capable of accommodating small aircraft. 
Spontaneous return of population continues and there are reports indicating up to 90% of the population of Goma has returned. Risks of further seismic activities and pollution of the air are of great concerns. As the displaced people have gone back to Goma, the focus of the operation has now shifted from Gisenyi, Rwanda to Goma, DRC, at least for the time being. 
Two experts in volcanology and geochemistry are due to arrive in Rwanda tomorrow with water sampling devices, temperatures and acidity measurement equipment to provide technical assistance. Provision of water and adequate sanitary condition remains a high priority, as contamination of the lake Kivu has been feared. 
There is an indication that the emergency in Goma will have an impact on the economic situation in surrounding cities and towns, as those cities/towns depend on supplies from Goma ports. In Kindu, for instance, it is reported that the day after the eruption, price of salt increased by 300%. In Kisangani, it is reported that price of sugar increased by 200%. 

Up to 60 killed in Goma petrol station blast
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Monday 21st January, 2002
A petrol station in the eastern Congolese town of Goma exploded on Monday killing up to 60 people. The blast happened as people were trying to siphon fuel from the petrol tanks, the eyewitnesses said. The looting of the fuel led to a leak that was ignited by lava from the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo that has caused chaos in the town.
Dozens of tremors shook the earth early Monday morning in and around Goma. 
The tremors were most frequent between 1 and 4 a.m. local time, often coming as little as 30 seconds apart. They echoed the concerns expressed by volcano experts that Mount Nyiragongo may not be finished erupting despite a lull in the flow of lava. 
Nyiragongo erupted last week, spewing some 250 million cubic metres of lava - the equivalent of about 125,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools - on Goma, the largest city in eastern Congo. 
No one knows how many people the volcano killed. The official figure from the United Nations is just three, revised downward from its previous estimate of 45. 
About 1,000 tons of food aid was sitting untouched in a United Nations warehouse in Goma while thousands of people made homeless by the volcano eruption went hungry.
The U.N. World Food Progamme said it was reluctant to start distributing the food in Goma because of fears of further eruptions of Mount Nyiragongo volcano.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Monday 21st January, 2002
Total people affected: Up to 600,000 (U.N.)
Deaths: 45 (U.N.)
Displaced People: Estimates range from 40,000 (field reports) to 450,000 (U.N.)
Initial assessments indicated that up to 400,000 residents around Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), were displaced by the eruption. Approximately one-third of the group moved west in DRC toward Sake. Approximately two-thirds moved east to Gisenyi in Rwanda.
The Government of Rwanda has opened two IDP camps approximately 25 kilometers from Gisenyi with a potential capacity for 85,000 people.
Lava continues to flow, although the rate of flow has slowed and much of the ash has cleared out of the air. Earth tremors continue to take place as often as once an hour, and some are strong enough to crack building walls in Gisenyi. Several tremors have been felt as far away as Bukavu and Kigali. 
Damage assessments report that lava flows have destroyed 14 villages and approximately 20 percent of the western half of the city, which is the commercial district and is the least inhabited area of Goma. The lava flow is approximately 500 meters wide and avoided most of the residential areas of the city. USAID/OFDA staff estimate that up to 5,000 homes have been destroyed.There is no electricity or gas in the city, making water systems inoperable. Lava has entered Lake Kivu.
Approximately 700 meters of the 2700-meter Goma airstrip have been destroyed. Continuing lava flows threaten fuel storage tanks at the airport. The Gisenyi airstrip has resumed operations. 

Congolese Return to Volcano Devastated Goma
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Monday 21st January, 2002
Tens of thousands of people who fled the volcanic eruption in Congo streamed back across a vast field of steaming lava on Sunday, returning to their ruined town and shunning refugee camps being set up by aid workers. The families returning home from the Rwandan border town of Gisenyi, the original destination for most of those who fled Nyiragongo's fury, were as hungry, thirsty and weak as those who chose to remain behind across the frontier to await foreign aid.
Some driven to desperation by thirst sought relief by drinking from Lake Kivu despite fears that lava may have poisoned its waters, officials and relief workers said. Wrecked cars, twisted roofs and blackened trees lay strewn for miles around Nyiragongo. There is no water or power in Goma, but residents said there was nothing to stay for in Rwanda. 
They said they were determined to try and start afresh. The main lava flow had stopped but poisonous gas still posed a health risk. For hundreds of thousands of refugees, the immediate need is now to find food, water and avert disease.
Aid workers had encouraged refugees to mass at two sites some 20 km (12 miles) from Gisenyi, where they said it would be easier to provide shelter, supplies and sanitation once aid promised by the international community started to arrive. (Reuters)
A few earth tremors continued to shake the region Sunday, but the frequency dropped from 12 an hour, to one every three or four hours. Lava was still flowing into Lake Kivu, but the flow had not expanded beyond the 165-foot wide swath already cut through the city. 
A 10-foot deep crust had formed over the river of molten rock running underneath, forming a bridge for the thousands of residents trying to get home for the first time since the eruption began on Thursday.
The volcano 12 miles north of Goma sent two lava flows into the city of half a million. A third flow was coming from a new volcanic crater on the Rwandan border. As seen from a Rwandan Air Force helicopter, a small black cone was forming in what had been banana grove on Congo's border with Rwanda. The new lava sources was spewing to the southwest, covering one third of the runway at Goma's airport, destroying the city's Roman Catholic cathedral and thousands of homes. About 40 percent of Goma was destroyed, but people living on higher ground escaped the destruction. Cargo planes carrying tons of supplies for the displaced have begun arriving in Kigali, Rwanda from where the aid will be trucked to the Congolese border, 75 miles to the west.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Sunday 20th January, 2002
Officials said they were preparing for a possible total of 650,000 displaced people if the eruption continued.
The volcano that has devastated the town of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo and made up to half a million people homeless erupted again yesterday, threatening what relief agencies warned would be 'an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe.
Vulcanologists who flew over Mount Nyiragongo saw through its sulphurous haze a new crater, seven miles below the main volcano. The cone is two metres high and was spewing lava six metres into the air. The lava was streaming down towards the town's airport, which has massive reserves of jet fuel.
Up to half a million were seriously at risk of malnutrition and disease, stranded without food, drinking water or shelter along the shores of Lake Kivu. Aid agencies were struggling to bring in emergency relief. 
A river of lava half a mile wide had bulldozed through the town centre, oozing into sidestreets and pouring into the lake on the far side. A fog of hot air and sulphurous steam hung over the burning ruins. Creaking and groaning, the lava slowed and cooled into a wall of black rock, three metres deep in places. 
Aid workers said up to 100,000 people could still be stranded between two lava flows, pouring from fissures at the base of the volcano, between Goma and Sake, 20 miles to the west. 
On a beach outside Goma, where the Rwandan shore of Lake Kivu begins, crowds of refugees were gathered, watching a 150ft column of steam rising where the lava entered the lake half a mile away. Women washed and cooked with the toxic waters, despite thousands of dead fish floating on the surface. (The Observer)
Meanwhile, experts warned of an explosive gas risk caused by lava flowing into Lake Kivu, which straddles the border between the DRC and Rwanda, with molten rock stirring up reserves of methane that lay dissolved in the lake. Undeterred by a night of powerful earth tremors, safety warnings from the DRC rebel group which controls the town or even sporadic gunfire, many were returning to see what was left of their homes and possessions.

Food Aid Arrives for Volcano Refugees
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Sunday 20th January, 2002
Some of the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by a volcanic eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) began to receive their first humanitarian aid Saturday, two days after a river of lava destroyed most of their home town. The United Nations believes there are some 300,000 people in need of assistance. Many of these people would not have had any food or water since fleeing their homes Thursday evening and have been camping out in the open ever since.
The UN food agency Saturday distributed nine tonnes of high-protein biscuits to tens of thousands of people who fled into Rwanda to escape an erupting volcano in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Another 36 tonnes of high-energy biscuits was expected to arrive in Gisenyi from Kampala on Sunday. The eruption of Mount Nyiragongo on Thursday forced nearly half a million people out of their homes and caused massive destruction.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Sunday 20th January, 2002
Braving violent earth tremors, a growing tide of Congolese among more than 300,000 who left the eastern town of Goma on Thursday started returning late on Saturday, saying they did not want to become refugees in Rwanda and anyway there was little aid there to obtain.
Scores of vehicles headed for Goma through a landscape shrouded in smoke carrying thousands of homeless Congolese seeking to assess the destruction in the lakeside port.
Returnees will have to cope with a tide of steaming lava that plowed through the town, razing thousands of homes and killing dozens of people, and plunged into Lake Kivu.
But many said they would prefer to try and rebuild in whatever was left of Goma than live on the streets of Gisenyi, swamped by families desperate for food and water, or in refugee camps the Rwandan government is planning to set up.
United Nations officials said they were encouraging refugees to mass at two camps some 12 miles from Gisenyi, where they could be more easily provided with shelter, supplies and sanitation.
Most of Goma's estimated half a million population appears to have fled eastwards into Rwanda. Another 100,000 are believed by aid workers to have escaped westwards, some of them taking boats to Bukavu on the southern tip of Lake Kivu.
Wildlife experts said many wild animals in nearby forests were likely to be harmed by the torrent of lava, ash and sulphurous gas pouring from the mountain's fissures. However endangered gorillas that inhabit the region are unlikely to be hurt as they do not live on Nyiragongo's slopes.
The pressure of the lava stream has fallen and several flows from the mountain had now stopped. The danger has not gone away completely, but there's no risk of another imminent eruption.

Nyiragongo Volcano Eruption in Perspective
Have we learnt the lessons from the past?

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Sunday 20th January, 2002
The massive humanitarian disaster which has occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo may have taken most people by surprise, but we fail to learn the lessons of the past.
The world's people who are least able to advocate for themselves are the most likely to suffer in such situations. Nyiragongo is one of Africa's most notable and active volcanoes. Eruptions are common and even last year there was a warning given about the postential disaster of an eruption in which lava reached Goma.

The following news item was posted 10 months before this week's disaster at Nyiragongo.
"... the level of lava in the crater of Nyiragongo had risen dangerously, and could break out at any time. There were now fears that the lava could reach the nearby town of Goma, where nearly 500,000 people live." (ENN, Sunday, March 11, 2001)

Once again, like the tragedy of Nevado del Ruiz (1985), the world fails to heed the warnings which are often staring us in the face. Natural disasters are often human made disasters. The aim of volcanologists should not be to predict eruptions but to forsee catastrophic events. Simple precautions may save a lot more lives than the most sophisticated scientific equipment.
These issues will be debated for years to come. Let's hope we don't make the same mistakes in the future. (written by John Seach, Volcanologist)

Help Arrives for Volcano Victims
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Sunday 20th January, 2002
Some of the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by a volcanic eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) began to receive their first humanitarian aid Saturday, two days after a river of lava destroyed most of their home town. The United Nations believes there are some 300,000 people in need of assistance. 
Many of these people would not have had any food or water since fleeing their homes Thursday evening and have been camping out in the open ever since. On the road leading east out of Gisenyi, aid agencies such are handing out emergency rations to refugees from Goma, which lies just across the border in the DRC.
High energy biscuits are being distributed. There are enough biscuits to feed 360,000 people for day, but this only provides a temporary solution and that the aim of the operation is to get those affected into two camps. One of these, at Nkamira, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of the Rwandan town of Gisenyi, is already a temporary home for former Rwandan refugees returning from the DRC. The other, at Mudende, is a former university campus used until a few weeks ago as a "reeducation camp" for former members of Rwandan Hutu rebel groups.
Aside from destroying vast numbers of houses in Goma, Thursday's river of lava also ruined the town's waterworks, cut its electricity supply and damaged a key section of the airport runway.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted the natural disaster is taking place in an area already beset by years of conflict. The United Nations was sending a plane with 28 metric tons of emergency supplies to Kigali to help the Congolese refugees.
Goma is on the edge of Lake Kivu on the Democratic Republic of Congo's border with Rwanda.
A Rwandan volcanologist, who flew over Nyiragongo, said the pressure of the lava stream was falling and several flows from the mountain had now stopped. 
There have been 47 fatalities so far. Injuries have been caused by lava, firearms, and hit by vehicles leaving the area. The risk of disease and malnutrition may cause many more deaths in the coming weeks.

Half a Million Flee from Volcano
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Sunday 20th January, 2002
Relief workers are scrambling to create order out of chaos after some 500,000 people fled the region hit by a huge volcanic eruption in east Africa, with at least one city devastated by lava flows. Mount Nyiragongo, just 10 kilometres (six miles) north of Goma, a city of 350,000 people, erupted early on Thursday.
With as many as 400,000 persons potentially homeless, the shelter needs will be considerable. Burns and other severe injuries, trauma, respiratory conditions, dehydration, and psychological stress are likely.
The situation is changing rapidly, and the speed of this evolving disaster means that detailed information on the likely numbers involved remains unclear as the affected population continues to move towards Rwanda and other safe areas. The increasing population movements triggered by the severe impact from the volcanic eruption, lava flow smoke and heat plus the concerns caused by the recurring seismic tremors are generating a major humanitarian crisis. The immediate needs will be to ensure the provision of safe areas, shelter, water, food and health supplies. The timely delivery of essential relief supplies such as blankets, plastic sheeting, utensils and other goods plus the transport, administrative and support costs and services to initiate this operation, will be critical.

Volcanic Crisis Deepens in Congo
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Saturday 19th January, 2002
Hundreds of thousands of people left their homes after the Nyiragongo volcano erupted on Thursday, with smoking lava engulfing the town of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing an estimated 45 people and destroying homes and streets. 
Experts said the eruption was the worst in central Africa for 25 years, with fires raging and tremours still being recorded on Saturday throughout the Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo border region. Residents said thousands of refugees including children had not eaten or drunk anything since the start of the eruption. Sporadic gunfire was heard in Goma as soldiers tried to prevent looting, but the lack of overall crowd control allowed others to break into shops along deserted streets and take what little was inside. Gaping holes opened up in Goma, normally a city of more than 500,000 but now virtually a ghost town, and molten rock reduced roads and buildings to fiery ash.

Aid Workers Fly to help Volcano Disaster Victims
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Saturday 19th January, 2002 (Posted 2200 UT)
British aid workers are travelling to Rwanda to help victims of the volcanic eruption in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled across the border after Mount Nyiragongo began spewing rock and molten lava on Thursday.
The eruption sparked a humanitarian crisis as refugees flooded into the town of Gisenyi, where they have no food or shelter. At least 14 villages are said to have been destroyed as three rivers of lava swept down the mountainside and much of the border town of Goma was reported to be ablaze after lava ignited petrol stored in plastic containers.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
The lava flow is reportedly descending in three tracks and has inundated Goma, with reports indicating over 80% of the buildings are destroyed or burning. The town's airport and the main road north to Uganda are reportedly cut and unusable to traffic. Authorities issued a "Red Alert" and a full evacuation is underway. Latest reports from Goma and Gisenyi are that the population has been ordered to fully evacuate the immediate area by 20:00 hours local time. Earlier today (18 January) the Federation and Rwanda Red Cross sources contacted in Goma confirmed between 50,000-60,000 people had crossed into Gisenyi. By this evening that number is reported at 300,000. The total population of Goma is estimated at over 500,000, and it is feared that others from the surrounding area may also begin to move. Unconfirmed reports indicate 45 deaths, but burn victims, smoke inhalation, and other injuries are expected.
The increasing population movements triggered by the severe impact from the volcanic eruption, lava flow smoke and heat plus the concerns caused by the recurring seismic tremors are generating a major humanitarian crisis. With as many as 400,000 persons potentially homeless, the shelter needs will be considerable.

Goma is flat, black and burning after Eruption
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Saturday 19th January, 2002
At least 50 percent of housing is gone, government buildings, schools, clinics, banks - all destroyed. People are arriving empty-handed and in need of immediate assistance. There are a large number of refugees in a small area, shelter, sanitation, health and security issues are of immediate concern.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Saturday 19th January, 2002
The following information is based on preliminary reports from various
government and news agencies that were received during the ongoing crisis.
An eruption began at Nyiragongo on 17 January and, according to news
reports, as of 18 January lava flows had destroyed parts of 14 villages and
45 people had been killed. Some reports state that the eruption began at
0500 local time. Other reports state that probably around mid-day, fissures
N of the Goma Airport opened and lava flowed from them at an estimated 2-3
m/min (1.2-1.8 km/hour) towards the town of Goma, ~10 km S of the volcano.
Eruptions occurred on the volcano’s S and E flanks. By late afternoon, at
least one flow had advanced into Goma. At this time tremor with 5-second
durations accompanied the lava flows about every 10 minutes. Gas stations
exploded as the flows advanced through Goma, cutting a reported 35-70 m
swath through the town on its way to Lake Kivu. In places, the lava flows
were 2 meters high and 30 m wide. 
The lava flows damaged 14 villages as they destroyed everything in their
paths including, buildings, homes, and the port in Goma. The population of
Goma (~400,000 people) and surrounding areas evacuated with some moving W
on the road toward the town of Sake, while the majority of the population
reportedly moved E towards Rwanda to the town of Gisenyi. According to news
reports, United Nations officials reported that 45 people had been killed
by the eruption as of 18 January. A Goma resident stated that by the
morning of 18 January tremor had died down to “about one every 40 seconds
to one an hour.” Also, lava continued to flow, but was no longer a threat
to the road linking Goma with Rwanda. If the evacuation numbers are correct then it will be the largest evacuation in history due to volcanic activity.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Friday 18th January, 2002
A flow of lava up to two metres (more than six feet) high cut across the town, which burned for part of the night. At daybreak the lava was continuing to flow but it no longer threatened to cut the road linking Goma with Rwanda, witnesses said. None had seen any casualties.
On Friday morning dozens of cars filled with families headed back to the stricken town. The main street was cluttered with abandoned vehicles, clothes, shoes and personal effects that bore witness to the rushed exodus a few hours earlier.
The lava from the eruption was coming not from its summit but from cracks on three of its flanks, producing three molten rivers. One of these rivers later split into two fingers, one heading towards the airport and the other towards northern residential areas. 

Goma on Fire as Lava Flows Through City
Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Friday 18th January, 2002
Volcanic lava poured through the biggest city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday as tens of thousands of people fled in its wake into neighbouring Rwanda. 
Large parts of Goma, a city of 400,000, were reported on fire, as lava flowed from Mount Nyiragongo volcano, 10 kilometres away. 
This is a catastrophe. Probably half of the population are going to be homeless.
The lava cut a swathe 60 metres wide through the centre of the city and the ensuing fires burned down buildings up to 40 metres on either side.
People who stayed in the town reported that lava had flowed onto the runway and taxiway at Goma's airport but that the facility could still be used.
Fourteen villages in the jungle around Goma were reported destroyed in the path of the lava.

Nyiragongo Volcano (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Thursday 17th January, 2002
Nyiragongo volcano in eastern Congo erupted Thursday, sending out plumes of ash and three rivers of lava that destroyed 14 villages near the Rwandan border and drove thousands from their homes. 
The sky around Mount Nyiragongo began glowing red, and ash fell on the nearby town of Goma before dawn Thursday. Three lava flows were detected, two coming down the mountain's east side and one down the west. 
Thousands of people were left homeless when the lava destroyed their villages. Most fled to Goma, 30 miles south of the volcano, while hundreds of others tried to enter neighboring Rwanda, but were turned away by border guards. There were no reports of deaths or injuries.
U.N. helicopters reported seeing two flows of lava, one heading directly for Goma and already within a mile of the airport, Eckhard said. Congolese officials reported three flows. 
Airport officials ordered all planes to fly out ahead of the advancing lava. 
Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira volcanoes, about 13 miles and 25 miles northeast of Goma, are the only two active volcanoes in the region.
Nyiragongo's last major eruption was in 1977, when lava flows killed almost 2,000 people in less than half an hour when fast flowing lava drained from a lava lake.

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