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People Take Selfies In Front Of Burning Lava After Volcano Erupts

Rebecca Shepherd

Published 
| Last updated 

People Take Selfies In Front Of Burning Lava After Volcano Erupts

Residents have been photographed taking selfies in front of volcanic lava after Mount Nyiragongo erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - killing at least 15 people.

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The eruption took place on Saturday evening (22 May) and resulted in 5,000 people fleeing from the city of Goma.

Despite more than 500 homes being destroyed, some people still found the time to pause for a picture as the molten lava came to a halt on the outskirts of the city.

The UN Children's agency said people fled across the nearby border into Rwanda, while another 25,000 sought refuge to the north-west in Sake.

More than 170 children were still feared missing on Sunday and Unicef officials said they were organising transit centres to help unaccompanied children.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Goma was largely spared the mass destruction it suffered the last time the volcano erupted in 2002. Hundreds died then and more than 100,000 were left homeless.

On Sunday, Aline Bichikwebo and her baby escaped when the lava flow reached her village, but her mother and father were among those who died. Community members gave a provisional toll of 10 dead in Bugamba alone, though provincial authorities said it was too soon to know how many were killed.

Ms Bichikwebo said she tried to rescue her father but was not strong enough to move him to safety before the family's home was ignited by lava.

Clutching her baby, she said: "I am asking for help because everything we had is gone. We don't even have a pot. We are now orphans and we have nothing."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The air remained thick with smoke because of how many homes had caught fire when the lava came.

Another resident, Alumba Sutoye, said: "People are still panicking and are hungry. They don't even know where they are going to spend the night."

Authorities said at least five people died in a truck crash as they were trying to evacuate Goma, but the scale of the loss has yet to be determined in some of the hardest-hit communities.

Residents said there was little warning before the dark sky turned a fiery red, sending people running for their lives in all directions. One woman went into labour and gave birth while fleeing to Rwanda, the national broadcaster there said.

Smoke rose from smouldering heaps of lava in the Buhene area near the city on Sunday.

Credit: Justin Kabumba/AP/Shutterstock
Credit: Justin Kabumba/AP/Shutterstock

Witnesses said lava engulfed one highway connecting Goma with the city of Beni, but the airport appeared to be spared the same fate as 2002 when lava flowed on to the runways.

Goma is a regional hub for many humanitarian agencies in the region, as well as the UN peacekeeping mission.

While the city is home to many UN peacekeepers and aid workers, much of surrounding eastern Congo is under threat from armed groups vying for control of the region's mineral resources.

Featured Image Credit: Justin Kabumba/AP/Shutterstock

Topics: News, Volcano

Rebecca Shepherd
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