On May 22nd, 2021, the city of Goma saw the third recorded eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano since 1894. The eruption of 2021 caused the death of 32 people and the displacement of over 450,000 people. The lava cut off electricity, water supplies, and roads to some areas. The lava flow was as wide as one kilometer and stopped only 700 meters from the Goma International Airport. In total, 18 villages and a neighborhood at the outskirt of Goma were destroyed, affecting 4,500 households and leaving 20,000 people homeless.
In the Nyiragongo’s eruption of January 17th, 2002, between 14 to 34 million cubic meters of lava erupted from fractures on its southern flanks in less than twelve hours. Melted lava continued to flow to Lake Kivu for a few more days, creating a delta of 800 meter wide and 120 meter long. The city of Goma was cut into two parts by one of the three lava flows. The lava flows destroyed a fifth of the city of Goma, including one-third of the runway of Goma international airport, over 170 people died, over 350,000 people self-evacuated out of the 400,000 inhabitants of the city of Goma, over 100,000 people were left homeless, and the economy took a severe blow.
Nyiragongo's deadliest eruption was on January 10th, 1977, when more than 600 people died. The Nyiragongo lava lake emptied 20-22 million cubic meters of lava in less than an hour. Lava flows arrived in Goma at a speed of up to 100 kilometers per hour. This eruption is a reminder of the destructive power of the Nyiragongo.
As Goma continues to grow fast in population and toward the Nyiragongo volcano, more people will be at risk at the next eruption. Moreover, Nyiragongo has many tuff cones inside the city of Goma and under Lake Kivu. Therefore, the next eruption could start in the middle of Goma or under Lake Kivu with the risk of provoking a limnic eruption of the Lake or a tsunami.