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Volcano erupts in Democratic Republic of Congo

Congolese residents of Goma gather at Rond Point Cercle to flee from erupting Mount Nyamulagira and Mount Nyiragongo part of the Virunga National Park in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo Saturday. Photo by Kinsella Cunningham/EPA-EFE
Congolese residents of Goma gather at Rond Point Cercle to flee from erupting Mount Nyamulagira and Mount Nyiragongo part of the Virunga National Park in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo Saturday. Photo by Kinsella Cunningham/EPA-EFE

May 22 (UPI) -- Mount Nyiragongo, the volcano in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, erupted Saturday evening, prompting evacuations as the lava changed direction.

Residents of the nearby city of Goma were asked to evacuate late Saturday as the government began discussing emergency measures, according to a Twitter post from DRC government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya.

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The volcano is one of the largest in the world. Its last large eruption of the volcano took place in 2002 and killed 250 people, CNN reported.

The volcano began erupting at around 7 p.m. local time.

By early Sunday morning the eruption appeared to have subsided, but the evacuation plan was still in effect as vulcanologists monitored the situation.

Initially the government chose not to order evacuations and urged calm as the scale of the eruption was not clear, but officials said the situation was unpredictable.

Tom Peyre-Costa, Norwegian Refugee Council spokesman for West and Central Africa, told CNN the lava was not flowing toward the city, but that if it changed direction, residents would have to evacuate to Rwanda.

Power was later cut off in the area as hundreds of residents began to evacuate toward the nearby border with Rwanda, The Guardian reported.

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