DRC refugees returning home after lava flows stopped

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TOPSHOT - Residents are seen gathering in a busy street after an eruption from Mount Nyiragongo on May 23, 2021 in Goma in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo. - A river of boiling lava came to a halt on the outskirts of Goma Sunday, sparing the city in eastern DR Congo from disaster after the nighttime eruption of Mount Nyiragongo sent thousands of terrified residents fleeing in panic. Fire and strong fumes emanated from the blackish molten rock as it swallowed up houses, heading towards Goma airport on the shores of Lake Kivu. (Photo by Guerchom Ndebo / AFP) (Photo by GUERCHOM NDEBO/AFP via Getty Images)

Thousands of residents from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) seeking refuge in Rwanda are on their way back home after lava flows from the Mount Nyiragongo volcano stopped, Rwanda’s Emergency Management Ministry said on Sunday.

This aerial view shows debris engulfing buildings in Bushara village, Nyiragongo area, near Goma, on May 23, 2021, after a volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, that sent thousands fleeing during the night in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. – A river of boiling lava from the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo has came to a halt outside Goma, sparing the city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the military governor of the region said on May 23, 2021. Five people were killed in related accidents. (Photo by Justin KATUMWA / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN KATUMWA/AFP via Getty Images)

“This morning, after lava flows from Nyiragongo volcano have stopped, most of Congolese evacuated to Rabavu are returning back home. Rwanda received around 8,000 people last night,” the ministry tweeted.

Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said that at least 15 people were killed while fleeing the threats of lava.

The DRC authorities have not yet released the assessed collateral damage caused by the eruption. Muyaya still urged residents to avoid non-essential activities while seismic activity in the area could still cause damage.

Right after the volcano burst into activity at around 7 p.m. local time (1800 GMT) on Saturday, the country’s eastern city of Goma, with a population of nearly 2 million, saw the night sky illuminated with orange flames. Electricity supply across much of the city was cut off.

The lava flows stopped on the outskirts of Goma at around 4 a.m. local time (0300 GMT), after destroying about 600 homes and flattening five schools, the Norwegian Refugee Council estimated.

Goma is home to two active volcanoes — Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo. Nyiragongo’s last major eruption in 2002 killed about 250 people and displaced thousands.

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