May 8, 2009

Two Volcanoes In Congo Showing Evidence Of Eruption

Two volcanoes near a major city in eastern Congo have begun showing evidence of intense volcanic activity - tremors, pools of lava and plumes of smoke - causing some residents flee the area, MSNBC reported.

Scientists who visited the two volcanic peaks of Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira said on Thursday the volcanoes could be near eruption and would threaten Goma, a city with a population of more than half a million people.

Dieudonne Wafula, the head of Goma's Volcanological Observatory, said the eruption could happen at any time.

Around 1.3 million people could be threatened by the two volcanoes, including the residents of Goma, the villages surrounding it and the inhabitants of Gisenyi, located across the Rwandan border, Wafula said.

The Nyiragongo crater is only 11 miles north of Lake Kivu, where Goma is located.

Wafula reported that many villagers living near Nyiragongo had already fled after seeing the volcano shake.

"They thought it was already erupting," he said.

Although the country's infrastructure has been destroyed by decades of civil war, government agencies and Red Cross workers are making preparations.

Wafula said Nyiragongo is currently listed as one of the eight most dangerous volcanoes in the world and its lava can flow at up to 24 miles per hour.

It decimated about a fifth of the residential areas of Goma, the provincial capital of Congo's North Kivu province, during its last eruption in 2002.

Lava flows as deep as 10 feet overtook parts of the city, killing 100 people.

Later the same year, Nyamulagira shot plumes of lava 300 feet into the air. Fortunately, it did not threaten