Today, thanks to the Monuc, I was able to overfly the Nyamulagira volcano, that began erupting in the early hours of 2 Jan. I was absolutely astounded at the lava and rocks shooting out of the crater.
The volcano - the most active in Africa - is still erupting, 4 days on. The lava flow has traveled 21 kilometers (13.5 miles), and is only 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) from the Goma-Sake road. The devastation is widespread.
These photos were taken during my flight which was in a small helicopter. We were 3 passengers and 2 pilots. The other passengers were from the Goma Volcano Observatory, so they are volcanologists who are monitoring the eruption. The crater you see above is about 20 meters in diameter.
Now when the eruption started 4 days ago there were 4 craters erupting. Today, 3 of those have stopped erupting and look like this one in the photo above. But the 4th is still going - and that is the one we are now worried about. The lava is now flowing much faster as the hill is steeper. Should the lava reach the road it will cause chaos. At the moment all the lava is still within the boundaries of Virunga National Park.
This is where one of the lava flows has already stopped. It really gives you an idea of the destruction.
And this is the lava flow that is still going. The volcanologists told me that it could reach the Goma-Sake road within 2 to 3 days.
What also struck me during this flight, that is perhaps not as impressive as a volcanic eruption in a photo, is the deforestation in this whole area due to the illegal charcoal trade. We could even spot people walking out of the park with charcoal from Virunga. This has really shocked me.
We continue to monitor the wildlife situation. Fortunately the chimpanzees of Tongo are still out of harm’s way. Some antelope and other smaller animals have been spotted moving away from the flanks of the Nyamulagira, but so far we have no casualties to report on that front. It is of course hard to tell as we cannot get too close. We will be able to evaluate properly once all this has stopped.
I shall keep you posted on Mount Nyamulagira’s activity - and the consequences that we shall all have to bear. The next 2 or 3 days are crucial.