Mount Nyiragongo: DR Congo plans to evacuate city as volcano erupts

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The government in the Democratic Republic of Congo has launched an evacuation plan for the eastern city of Goma after a large volcano erupted.

Fountains of high lava burst from the Mount Nyiragongo into the night sky forming a thick orange cloud over Goma, which has a population of two million.

Thousands of panic-stricken residents were fleeing, many on foot.

The volcano, located 10km (six miles) from Goma, last erupted in 2002 killing 250 people and making 120,000 homeless.

Crowds were seen with mattresses and other belongings, fleeing towards the border with Rwanda to the east, even before the government’s announcement, which came several hours after the eruption started.

Rwandan authorities said about 3,000 people already had officially crossed from Goma. The country’s state media said they would be accommodated in schools and places of worship. Other residents fled to higher grounds to the west of the city.

“We’re already in a total psychosis,” resident Zacharie Paluku told the Associated Press (AP) news agency. “Everyone is afraid; people are running away. We really don’t know what to do.”

A new fracture opened up on the volcano, enabling lava to flow south towards Goma and reach the airport, on the eastern edge of the city. Electricity was out across large areas, and one highway that connects Goma with the city of Beni had already been engulfed by the lava.

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