At least 15 people have died and hundreds of children were feared missing or separated from their families Monday after Mount Nyiragongo erupted in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the weekend.
Nine people died in a car accident as they tried to flee, four people died while trying to escape a prison and two people died from burns, government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said in a statement on Sunday. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that children were lost amid the chaos as residents fled the nearby city of Goma on Saturday. More than 150 children have been separated from their families and more than 170 children are feared to be missing, the agency said. Around 8,000 people crossed into Rwanda from the DRC to seek refuge following the eruption, with some returning back a day later, Rwanda’s Emergency Management Ministry said. Thousands of residents in Goma spent Saturday night outdoors following the eruption, according to a Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) spokesperson.
A DRC government spokesperson told CNN Monday that they have not officially advised those who evacuated their homes to return, as seismic activity continues to be recorded at the volcano. Evacuees walked toward Rwanda on Saturday, Tom Peyre-Costa, NRC’s spokesperson for west and central Africa said Sunday. The border was closed, so they went back to Goma and headed to an area north of the city. Peyre-Costa posted to Twitter video of people leaving the city. “Everywhere in the city you see people walking with their belongings, their children and even their goats and whatever they could grab. Most of them are just sitting by the road waiting to be able to go back any time soon,” Peyre-Costa said. But hundreds could return to find damaged homes and dangerous shortages of water and electricity, UNICEF said.