KINSHASA, May 30 — The panicky situation caused by the eruption of a volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is “under control,” President Felix Tshisekedi told a news conference on Saturday.
The announcement was made after a “false alarm” earlier in the day of a new low-intensity volcanic eruption in the Goma region, the capital of the DRC’s north-eastern province of North Kivu.
“A plane just flew over the entire area of the flanks of the volcano. No eruptions were found. Rather, it was intense carbonization activities of charcoal wood, the smoke of which was perceived as a volcano activity,” tweeted the DRC’s Ministry of Communication and Media, in response to a former tweet, which was then deleted.
The Mount Nyiragongo volcano, one of the two active volcanoes in Goma, erupted on May 22, killing at least 32 people, according to the local government.
Here is a timeline of the Nyiragongo volcano eruption:
— The United Nations (UN) has expanded humanitarian relief to the DRC as the country has evacuated residents from Goma in case of another volcanic eruption.
— The humanitarian focus has been on people directly affected by the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano on May 22, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Friday.
— Thousands of people are displaced and on the move following a state evacuation order to 10 districts in Goma, capital of North Kivu, it said, adding that water, sanitation, and disease outbreak prevention are among the priorities.
— Nearly 400,000 people were evacuated since Thursday from Goma and its surroundings to travel to areas designated by authorities as a precaution against the risk of another eruption of the nearby Nyiragongo volcano.
— The evacuation came after the province’s military governor, General Constant Ndima, on Wednesday night asked residents of some neighborhoods in Goma to evacuate the area in the face of the risk of a fresh eruption.
— The Ministry of Communication and Media said in a tweet that the DRC government was preparing to activate a precautionary evacuation plan in response to frequent earthquakes in Goma.
— General Ndima warned about a possible fresh volcanic eruption following intense seismic activity Goma at the foot of the Nyiragongo volcano, as well as surrounding areas and neighbouring Rwanda.
— An earthquake on the border of Congo and Rwanda on Tuesday — measured 5.3 magnitude by the Rwandan Seismic Monitor and the strongest of more than 100 tremors that followed Saturday’s eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano — destroyed several buildings in the DRC’s eastern city of Goma.
— A series of earthquakes hit western Rwanda’s Rubavu district that borders eastern DRC, following the Nyiragongo volcano’s eruption on Saturday, causing major cracks in residential and commercial houses, schools and several murram and tarmac roads, Gilbert Habyarimana, mayor of Rwanda’s Rubavu district, told Xinhua.
— The death toll linked to the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano in North Kivu province rose to 32 and was likely to further rise, the DRC authorities said.
— Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the loss of life saddens the UN chief and that Guterres expressed his deepest sympathies to the government and people of the DRC.
— DRC Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said 15 people were killed while fleeing the threats of lava.
— Rwanda’s Emergency Management Ministry said thousands of residents from the DRC seeking refuge in Rwanda were on their way back home.
— A lava flow reached the airport of Goma after the eruption of the nearby Mount Nyiragongo volcano. Authorities announced evacuation plans.
— Around 3,000 people fled Goma for neighboring Rwanda as the city was illuminated with orange flames.
— Gilbert Habyarimana, mayor of Rwanda’s Rubavu district, which borders eastern DRC, called upon its residents to stay calm.
— The lava flow stopped at around 4 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) on the outskirts of Goma,
— Habyarimana said residents who fled to Rwanda started returning home while some were still in Rwanda.
— The Nyiragongo volcano burst into activity at around 7 p.m. local time (1800 GMT).