Posts Tagged ‘Virunga National Park’

Following the eruption of a volcano in the far east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo DRC, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country is using its aviation force to help to keep a close eye on lava flow.

Mount Nyamulagira, which sits some 40 kilometres northwest of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, erupted on Saturday, and while it has not affected any people, the lava has spewed into a non-populated area of the Virunga National Park.

The UN mission known as MONUC has put its Indian aviation force and helicopters at the disposal of local authorities, scientists with the Volcanic Observatory of Goma and the National Institute for the Conservation of Nature ICCN to help monitor volcanic activity.MONUC said that for now, the population of Goma and its surrounding areas seem to be safe from any lava flow, but that the mission stands ready to provide additional support to officials, who have assured people that the nearby volcano of Nyiragongo will be unaffected by the eruption of Nyamulagira.

The ICCN has expressed concern over the threat posed by the volcanic eruption on Virunga National Park’s ecosystems and wildlife, including the possible migration or death of animals in the site

via allAfrica.com: Congo-Kinshasa: UN Helping to Monitor Volcanic Eruption in East.

Lava from a volcano in a sparsely populated area of the Democratic Republic of Congo is threatening rare chimpanzees, wildlife officials say.

Mount Nyamulagira, 25km (16 miles) from the eastern city of Goma, erupted at dawn on Saturday, sending lava into the surrounding Virunga National Park.

About 40 endangered chimpanzees and other animals live in the area.

But the country’s famous critically endangered mountain gorillas are said to be safe as they live further east.

Emmanuel de Merode, Virunga’s director, said that park staff were working with the civilian and military authorities to assess the risk and take appropriate action.

Rangers were deployed to the area to monitor the flow of lava and were due to report back hourly, he added.

A government official, Feller Lutahichirwa, said observers were monitoring the situation with help from UN helicopters, the Associated Press reports.

‘Mountain on fire’

While few people live in the area immediately affected, officials said their primary concern was to protect human settlements.

map

Innocent Mburanumwe, warden for Virunga’s southern sector, said that lava was flowing towards an area to the south of the volcano, where “many people” live.

“I was woken at 0345 [0145 GMT] by a loud bang, which I first thought was the sound of war,” he added.

“I thought there was fighting again near our park station,” he said, referring to the conflicts which have wracked eastern DR Congo.

“Then I saw the mountain was on fire with sparks flying.”

Mount Nyamulagira (also spelled Nyamuragira), which stands at 3,058m (10,033ft), is one of the most active volcanoes in Africa, according to officials in Virunga.

It has registered more than 35 eruptions since 1882, with the most recent before this weekend being in 2006.

Virunga, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1979, is home to 200 of the world’s 720 remaining mountain gorillas but they live on the flanks of the Mikeno volcano further east from Nyamulagira.

Previous eruptions of the volcano have threatened the city of Goma, which has a population of at least 200,000 as well as tens of thousands of refugees.

As reported on: BBC News – DR Congo volcano eruption threatens rare chimpanzees.