Thousands flee powerful volcano eruption in Congo

The military in Congo says a major city threatened by a massive volcanic eruption has been spared. They say molten lava that was streaming toward Goma came to a stop just a few hundred meters from the city limits. Authorities had urged Goma’s two million residents to evacuate after Mount Nyiragongo erupted for the first time in almost two decades.

But many accuse them of responding too late, after thousands had already fled into neighboring Rwanda.

The flowing lava made this road impassible: When Mount Nyiragongo erupted Saturday evening, people quickly packed some belongings and fled. There were widespread power outages in the nearby city of Goma. Residents were unsure of where to find a safe haven.

Mount Nyiragongo is in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, close to the border with Rwanda. It’s considered one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. Its last eruption in 2002 killed 250 people.

As lava approached Goma’s airport on the eastern edge of the city, officials urged residents to evacuate. New fractures opening in the volcano allowed lava to flow south toward the city center.