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Thousands evacuate over possible second DRC volcano eruption

A Congolese man carries a baby as he evacuates the town of Goma in the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano over Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo on Wednesday. Photo by Michel Lunanga/EPA-EFE
A Congolese man carries a baby as he evacuates the town of Goma in the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano over Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo on Wednesday. Photo by Michel Lunanga/EPA-EFE

May 29 (UPI) -- Thousands of residents have evacuated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo's eastern city of Goma under threat from a another eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano, the United Nations said.

U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman Jens Laerke said Friday that the Congolese government has ordered up to 400,000 people to evacuate from the capital of North Kivu province. The order comes a week after an eruption of the volcano.

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The region experienced a 4.9-magnitude earthquake in the wake of the first eruption, causing geologists to believe Nyiragongo may yet vent again.

"The first eruption on 22 May killed over 30 people and the Goma Volcanological Observatory has warned that the risk of a new eruption is real", Laerke said.

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He added that evacuation orders have led to "large traffic jams" on the main roads leading out of Goma, with people "moving in all directions, mostly on foot, carrying what they can, but also in cars and on boats."

The volcanic eruption and earthquake have threatened an already-vulnerable population in eastern DRC.

"This crisis is happening against the backdrop of a situation of already high needs in North Kivu," Laerke said.

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"Forty-four per cent of the 5 million internally displaced persons in the DRC are in North Kivu, where also 33 percent of the population is severely food insecure."

The Mount Nyiragongo volcano is one of the largest in the world. Last week's eruption was the last large eruption since a 2002 eruption that killed 250 people and displaced thousands.

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