Mount Nyiragongo’s Unexpected Eruption

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This past Saturday, Mount Nyiragongo, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, had erupted without warning, causing numerous citizens to flee to Rwanda for shelter. According to Reuters, the eruption “was caused by fractures which opened in the volcano’s sides, causing lava to flow in several directions”. Geologists have struggled to study the volcano since the World Bank had cut off it’s funding due to embezzlement allegations.

Observatories have also struggled to check on the volcano due to poor Internet connection, though they mamaged to reestablish connection in April. However, by that time, it was too late to take action. ““As soon as the internet was restored, we had started recording the warning signals, but since we did not have previous data, we thought it was the start of volcanic activity,” says Celestin Kasereka Mahinda, the observatory’s scientific director.

Fortunately, the speed of the lava was very slow, giving its citizens enough time to flee to Rwanda. However, it did not prevent the death of at least 13 citizens, “9 of whom were involved in a tragic accident and 4 of whom tried to escape from a prison in Goma”, according to reporter Jody Serrano.

Nyiragongo is one of the most famous volcanos in the world, erupting about 7 times throughout the past century. It’s pattern of eruption is quite sporadic. According to volcanologist Robin George Andrews, “Normally, Nyiragongo’s lava is very fluid and fast, making it perilous. Volcanos in this region also belch out a lot of carbon dioxide which sinks into the downslope, killing nearby pedestrians”. Further attention must be allocated towards the volcano to properly warn the public about another eruption.

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