The situation is under control – a reassuring message from the Congolese government, after it mistakenly announced on Saturday that there had been another volcanic eruption near the eastern city of Goma.
The false alarm came only a week after Mount Nyiragongo roared back to life – forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee the area. Now, some are braving the return home. More than a thousand volcano refugees left a camp in Rwanda on Saturday and queued at the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the hope of a return to normal life once more. But slowly returning to the city of Goma, many people no longer have anywhere to call home – after the Nyiragongo volcano roared back to life several days ago.
Africa’s most active volcano saw terrified people flee the Congolese city as rivers of lava killed dozens of people and left tens of thousands homeless.
The blunder comes as the government is increasingly being criticized for a looming humanitarian crisis, with about 400,000 residents having evacuated the eastern city of Goma after a week of rolling aftershocks.
More suffering briefly seemed imminent when the government said that Murara volcano, considered to be a crater of Mount Nyamuragira just 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Goma, had erupted Saturday morning.
Fears that Mount Nyiragongo could become active again days after the initial eruption sparked a mass evacuation of more than half of Goma’s neighborhoods.
The metropolis is home to about 1.5 million. People have sought shelter wherever they could, including school classrooms. Many said they were struggling to find enough food and water as the United Nations called for aid and warned about the risk of cholera.
However, not everyone fled the area – frontline healthcare workers stayed behind to care for their patients. The natural beauty of Mount Nyiragongo betrays its volatile nature – leaving thousands to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives.