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Earthquakes on the Congo border raise fears of a second volcano eruption

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A citizen picks up remains of his house covered in burning lava after the eruption of the volcano of Mount Nyiragongo, near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, May 24, 2021. Reuters / AJ Alcatante

The Rwanda Seismological Observatory said that a 5.3-magnitude earthquake shook the border lands between Rwanda and Congo on Tuesday morning, raising concerns about a new eruption in the aftermath of Saturday’s earthquake that killed at least 32 people.

Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in the world, erupted on Saturday, sending a river of lava toward Goma, a city of nearly two million people.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the area has experienced repeated tremors since then and the lava lake in the crater appears to have been replenished, raising fears of new fissures or another eruption.

A Reuters reporter said the quake appeared to have collapsed several buildings in Goma, although it was not clear if there were any casualties because police sealed off the area.

The quake struck at 11:03 a.m. (09:03 GMT), and was originating in the Rogerero sector in western Rwanda, according to the Rwanda Seismological Observatory, which is run by the Rwanda Council of Mines, Oil and Gas.

A Reuters reporter said multiple cracks in the ground appeared in Goma on the last day, although businesses have reopened across the city and life appears to be returning to normal for those who haven’t lost their homes.

The United Nations said that about a thousand homes were destroyed and more than five thousand people were displaced by the blast.

The lava flow stopped a few hundred meters from the city limits, but destroyed 17 villages along the way, cutting off the main electricity supply and blocking a main road, disrupting aid deliveries to one of Africa’s most food insecure places.

The government said the 1.7-kilometer (1.1-mile) road linking Juma to the north of the province is covered in lava, hindering the movement of people and goods.

The International Federation of the Red Cross said in a statement that more than half a million people have lost access to safe drinking water, as lava has destroyed one of the most important sources of water supply.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said, “Although the lava flow has stopped, the authorities have warned that the danger is not over and that seismic activity in the area could cause more pyroclastic flows. Damage to the infrastructure has not been ruled out.”

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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