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Congo braces for possible volcanic eruptioncomment (0)

January 28, 2010

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa is bracing for a possible volcanic eruption.

Mount Nyamuragira in eastern DRC started spewing lava Jan. 2, threatening residents, wildlife, livestock and crops on or near the mountain.

The lava flows are not known to have threatened large populated areas, but there are fears that a more massive eruption is imminent. Wildlife, especially chimpanzees, in the Virunga National Park, where the volcano is located, is especially at risk.

The Union of Baptist Churches in Congo (UEBCO) informed the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) that people in the mountains of Masisi, a town and administrative district close to the volcano, have already suffered from the spewing ash and flowing lava. The villages of Kausa, Kalonge, Nyamule, Musongati and Buramo, among others, have been particularly affected.

“Dust from Nyamulagira volcano has damaged plants such as maize, sorghum and beans,” the report from the UEBCO said. The upcoming harvest has been destroyed, and the people in the affected areas “will be facing severe hunger,” the BWA member body reported.

Chemicals in the ash and rock fragments pose possible health risks, even in areas that are farther away from the mountain, threatening to contaminate food and water.

Already drinking water sources such as open springs and rainwater catchments in several villages, including Sake, Kingi and Rusayo, contain unacceptably high levels of chemicals.

There has been an increase in the number of reported cases of diarrhea and eye diseases among residents, as well as deaths among domestic animals.

Mount Nyamuragira is one of Africa’s most active volcanos and has erupted more than 30 times since 1880. (BWA)

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