The Nyiragongo, considered the most dangerous volcano in Africa
Eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on May 22, 2021. JUSTIN KABUMBA / AP
Located near Goma, in the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Nyiragongo, which erupted on Saturday, May 22, is the most active volcano in Africa and is considered by specialists as one of the most dangerous.
This strato-volcano which has fascinated entire generations of volcanologists is, along with Nyamuragira, one of the two volcanoes still active in the Virunga range, in this central African country. It is located in the densely populated region of Goma and poses a threat to around 1.5 million people.Read also Eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in the DRC: Goma spared by the lava, the inhabitants worried about the tremors
Culminating at 3,470 meters, it is known to be home to the largest almost permanent lava lake in the world, the level of which rises and falls from time to time. Its dangerousness is due to the fact that its lava flows are extremely fast, being able to hurtle down a slope at 100 km / h.
Deadly lava flows
Its last eruption was on January 17, 2002. The volcano then spat a cloud of ash 3 kilometers high and dumped between 15 and 25 million cubic meters of lava on the city of Goma. He then killed more than 100 people and devastated central Goma, destroying nearly 14,000 homes and leaving 130,000 people homeless. Between 300,000 and 500,000 people had been displaced in neighboring Rwanda.
A previous eruption, in January 1977, had been even more deadly. The lava had also reached Goma and caused the death of several hundred people (the balance sheets vary from 600 to 2,000) in the northern outskirts of the city. It is the deadliest lava flow known, as well as the largest flow (about 20 million cubic meters in half an hour).Read also “In eastern DRC, millions of people are on the brink of famine”
While the lake was at its highest level, a fracture cut into the volcano and molten lava poured in. For the first time in history, lava emerged outside the cone, descending the slopes and crossing the villages at speeds varying between 60 and 100 km / h.
A private funding observatory
In 1982, a new lava lake reappeared. And in 1994, when the genocide in Rwanda brought refugees to the area, a new activity in Nyiragongo had caused great concern, as nearly 800,000 people were camping between Goma and the volcano. An eruption comparable to that of 1977 would then have caused an unprecedented catastrophe.
After the 2002 eruption, a seismic observatory was created in Goma, the Volcanological Observatory of Goma (OVG), in order to monitor both Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira. But this surveillance was interrupted for seven months, until last April, for lack of funding.
The World with AFP