The situation is “serious” but “under control” following the eruption of Nyiragongo volcano and the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of Goma residents, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi assured on Saturday, in response to growing criticism of the government’s crisis management.
“The situation is certainly serious, but it is under control,” the president said during a news conference, declaring it “absolutely necessary to evacuate the city,” calling for a sudden and chaotic evacuation last Thursday, while “we still don’t know what can be done.” happen “.
“There is an underground flow of lava that can occur at any time in any city,” he recalled, “strongly advising not to return to Goma.”
“We have a problem of displaced people, but at least they are alive, their return (in the current circumstances) would be very dangerous,” the head of state said.
These displaced persons, estimated by the government at around 400,000, “fled in several directions” and “it is difficult to have their exact number to organize effective care, which is why time has passed. The past”, he explained, while criticism is rampant in the country. management of the sudden eruption on May 22, and especially due to the evacuation on Thursday ordered without any obvious organization or logistical support, despite promises by the authorities.
– “Pyphometer” –
Many have already seen in the May 22 eruption an illustration of “State Bankruptcies,” “that no warning system worked,” especially due to a lack of budget and “pyfometer management,” EcoNews estimated, estimating that “the population felt left over. to his sad fate “.
After the eruption, the government sent a large ministerial delegation to Goma with large reinforcements of encouraging declarations, launching work, stringing promises of help and visits to victims “for consolation”.
But evacuation conditions on Thursday revived criticism. “The state has decided to evacuate the population of #Goma and #Nyiragongo without any help,” the activist group Lucha exploded on Twitter.
“Ensuring the availability of vehicles during the evacuation is very difficult,” President Tshisekedi acknowledged in this regard.
“Today we are on track to be able to start deploying drinking water as well as food” at the places where they found refuge, he confirmed.
“These have been displaced only for a short time, the biggest job will be in Goma, where 5,000 houses have been destroyed” from lava flows, he expected, promising to organize return convoys.
He also launched an “appeal for donations, even if“ a budget is announced, ”the management of which will be“ transparent. ”He also promised“ to go there as soon as the airports open, ”to provide comfort and support“ to his compatriots .
Those statements come hours after a major government mistake mistakenly announced the eruption of a small volcano in neighboring Nyiragonga, suggesting a new catastrophe.
– Magma pod Gomom –
Nyiragongo erupted without any warning signs on May 22nd. Two huge lava flows escaped from the side of the volcano. At least 34 people were killed and between 900 and 2,500 homes were destroyed.
According to the latest OVG report on Saturday, 61 earthquakes occurred in the last 24 hours, “an earthquake that is consistent with the continued movement of magma in the Nyiragongo fissure system toward Lake Kivu.”
These quakes slowed significantly for 48 hours.
OVG now lists three main scenarios for the coming days: “magma remains underground without eruption,” with or without continued tremor; or the earthquakes continue and the lava reappears on dry land, possibly in cracks that break the city soil.
The fourth catastrophic hypothesis, about “a landslide or major earthquake that destabilizes the deep waters of a lake and causes the appearance of dissolved gas,” is now considered “much less likely,” but “cannot be ruled out”.
On Saturday, the capital of North Kivu, mostly emptied, still encountered an illusion of calm and normalcy.
The government is now facing a major humanitarian crisis, once again in a region ravaged by violence by armed groups for three decades. Among the many emergencies, the issue of access to drinking water, with the associated risks of epidemics, is particularly acute, according to the UN, ICRC and NGOs.