Major Njike Kaiko Guillaume, spokesperson for the military governor of North Kivu, said the Goma Volcanic Observatory had identified magma under the town which also stretches under Lake Kivu. While this magma has partially drained, radar images indicate that the crater inside the top of the volcano continues to expand, he reported.
“Based on this information, we still cannot rule out a ground eruption or an eruption under the lake – but one could come with very little or no warning,” the spokesperson said.
Since then, the region has seen a series of earthquakes and tremors, some felt as far away as the Rwandan capital of Kigali, 65 miles from the volcano in Virunga National Park.
A resident told CNN on Thursday that some of his neighbors in high-rise buildings had fled their homes for fear of collapsing.
Many of those who fled traveled on foot, carrying mattresses and cooking utensils. The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said Thursday.
The military spokesman said displaced people were arriving in evacuation areas that would facilitate assistance from the government and humanitarian organizations.
Earlier Friday, UNICEF warned that up to 400,000 people, including nearly 280,000 children, could be displaced if the volcano erupts again.
“Whenever large groups of people are displaced in a short period of time, the dangers for children increase,” warned UNICEF representative in the DRC, Edouard Beigbeder. “We need to be mindful of the immediate risks to children on the move, including protection issues, nutritional and health risks, including water-borne diseases and in particular the spread of cholera.
The UN agency added that nearly 700 of the 1,000 children who had been separated from their parents amid the chaos of Saturday’s eruption have now been identified and are helping reunite these children with their families.
The military governor also encouraged provincial health and civil authorities on Friday to take care of unaccompanied children.
Goma, the capital of the province of North Kivu, is located on the shores of Lake Kivu, on the border of the DRC with Rwanda. According to official projections from the UN, World Bank and others, the city is home to around 670,000 people – however, a number of non-governmental organizations in the region are bringing the population closer to one million.
The current chaos is compounded by catastrophic levels of violence and hunger in the DRC which, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), constitutes “the world’s most neglected displacement crisis”.
Multiple conflicts in the central African country have forced 2 million people to flee their homes in 2020, while there is also a dire lack of international aid and diplomatic attention, according to a new report from the COR.
“DR Congo is one of the worst humanitarian crises of the 21st century,” NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland said in a statement.
The DRC has more than 27 million people, including more than 3 million children, who do not have enough food to feed themselves – a third of the country’s population – and more than 5 million internally displaced people. interior of the country, according to the NRC.
George Engels of CNN also contributed to this report.