The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has launched an evacuation plan for the eastern city of Goma after a large volcano erupted.
Lofty lava fountains spout from Mount Nyiragongo into the night sky forming a thick orange cloud over Goma, which has a population of two million.
Panicked people fled to safety.
The volcano, located about 10 km (six miles) from the city, last erupted in 2002, killing 250 people and leaving 120,000 homeless.
Even before the government’s announcement, crowds of residents were seen with mattresses and other personal effects fleeing towards the border with Rwanda.
Resident Carine Mbala told AFP: “There is a smell of sulfur. In the distance you can see giant flames coming out of the mountain.”
People were advised to stay calm and evacuate to Sake Town.
Goma-based volcanologist Dario Tedesco told Reuters news agency that a new fracture had opened on the volcano and lava was reaching the city’s airport.
A highway that connects Goma to the city of Beni had already been engulfed by lava, according to the Associated Press news agency. Electricity was cut off in large parts of the city.
A government spokesperson said on Twitter that the government was discussing “urgent measures to be taken” after the prime minister called an emergency meeting in the capital, Kinshasa.
A video posted on Twitter by The New Times in Rwanda showed the eruption of the town of Rubavu, near the border with Rwanda.
Others have posted videos of lava spewing from the volcano, which recorded its deadliest eruption in 1977, when more than 600 people died.
Mount Nyiragongo is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, but there were concerns that its activity had not been properly observed, since the World Bank cut funding amid allegations of corruption.
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