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The Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday ordered what it termed the ‘progressive return’ of residents who fled the city of Goma amid fears of a catastrophic eruption by the nearby volcano Nyiragongo back to their city.
Africa Today News, New York had earlier reported that around two-thirds of Goma’s 600,000 population left after an evacuation order was issued last month, although thousands have since streamed back, defying official warnings.
‘Today, we decided on the progressive return of displaced people in line with a plan which will be issued by the military governor,’ Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lunkonde Kyenge told a press conference in Goma monitored by Africa Today News, New York.
‘Compared with two weeks ago, the situation in terms of seismic activity has improved. We now able to contemplate the future with less worry,’ he said.
The military governor of North Kivu province, General Constant Ndima, told the press conference that schools were billed to reopen on June 14.
Goma lies on the shores of Lake Kivu, just a dozen or so kilometres (nine miles) from Mount Nyiragongo, Africa’s most active volcano.
Nyiragongo suddenly erupted on May 22, spewing out two rivers of lava before stopping the next day.
But powerful aftershocks followed, causing several buildings to collapse and triggering panic among the population, while scientists said they feared a potentially catastrophic eruption under the lake.
In response, Ndima on May 27 ordered the evacuation of 10 out of the city’s 18 districts.
Some 120,000 people arrived in the town of Sake, about 25 kilometres (15 miles) to the west, while thousands more fled to the Rwandan town of Gisenyi, just across the border to the east.
However, large numbers have returned informally, and by the middle of last week, the city centre seemed as it had almost returned to normal.
The city’s airport reopened on Saturday.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK