The lava stopped just short ouf house of the town of Goma. Despite the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo being on high alert over a possible second eruption in a week, some decided to come back to their homes. They discovered damaged goods, and rubble.
“There are still traces of the previous eruption. I had built here, but the eruption blocked everything”, says Ntamuhanga Nyemanyi, the chief of the Bugamba 2 village, near Goma, as he steps in the remains of his work.
During the last eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano on 18 January 2002, close 400,000 Congolese had fled the lava. Last weekend’s eruption, reminded locals of a painful memory.
“The 2002 eruption is different from the one we had in 2021. Back in 2002 there were signals and information was well delivered. They had prepared us well. But this year, when we saw the lava, we fled. We built over the cracks several times because we were not informed. If there had been documentation, or if we had simply been informed beforehand, we could have avoided the worst. We have seen that with every eruption the volcano follows the same path, if we were informed about these cracks we would not be in danger. We are building in a very bad way and the volcano is destroying our houses. We really need a day to commemorate the volcano eruption. We can’t do it, but the authorities can make this happen,” Ntamuhanga Nyemanyi declares.
Many Congolese were caught by surprise on Saturday, as lava destroyed their homes.
Now, residents of Goma wonder why the risks weren’t as closely monitored as they were, back in 2002.
“I can congratulate the volcanologists of that time, they were competent back then, they gave the information and this information was safe and there were no deaths. There were only houses that were burnt and goods that were lost but. That is why I compare what I experienced with today’s volcano, we were not informed, we just stood in front of an unexpected event, and yet the volcanologists were there, we wonder what are they doing?” questions Kisanga Alima Marceline.
The former regional assembly rapporter Nkuba Kahombo says the state should declare the region as a disaster area.
“The city of Goma is a disaster area, in fact the whole province of North Kivu is a disaster area. We have armed groups, we have natural disasters… This province should normally be proclaimed as a disaster area and the state should take all necessary measures to ensure these responsibilities,” asserts Nkuba Kahombo.
The Nyiragongo volcano is the most active in Africa and is considered by specialists to be one of the most dangerous on the continent. But due to a lack of government funding and budget to support the local Volcanology Observatory, it has not been monitored for seven months.
Gael Mpoyo, Africanews’ Correspondent in DRC contributed to this report.