Mount Nyiragongo unleashed lava for the first time in two decades early on Sunday, destroying more than 500 homes on the outskirts of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the lava from the volcano burnt houses and made its way to the streets of the city at night, nearly 5, 000 people were forced to flee in panic. While 15 people are reported to be dead and 170 children are still feared missing, the full scale of the damage to life and property is yet to be determined.
Amid such wide-scale devastation and chaos, there were a few who had the audacity to pause the evacuation midway, just to take selfies. Pictures of some residents taking selfies are going viral in which they can be seen standing in front of the molten lava that was flowing out from the volcanic eruption of the mountain. In the photos, the night sky can be seen in the colour of fiery red, filled with thick smoke rising from the flames.
Many others went in the morning to take pictures with lava that had been cooled down till then.
Meanwhile, among those who evacuated the city, some fled across the nearby border into Rwanda, while another 25,000 sought refuge in the northwest in Sake, said the UN Children’s agency. They were forced to spend their nights on the streets. UNICEF officials were organising transit centres to help the unaccompanied children. Many humanitarian agencies in the region as well as the UN peacekeeping mission function in Goma.
According to The Guardian, 10 people have died in Bugamba alone and at least five were killed in a truck crash while they were trying to evacuate, but according to provincial authorities, it was too soon to know the exact toll.
Many who saw the devastation unfold said the lava had even engulfed one highway that connected Goma with the city of Beni.
Previously, Mount Nyiragongo erupted in 2002 that killed hundreds of people and rendered more than 1 lakh homeless.