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More Tremors in Congo; Volcanic Eruption Forces Evacuations

More seismic tremors were reported Friday in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The tremors come less than a day after a volcanic eruption caused tens of thousands of residents in the region to flee to neighboring Rwanda.

The rumbling tremors are taking place every five minutes, indicating that Congo's Mount Nyiragongo is still raging, though the flow of lava from the volcano has declined considerably since it erupted Thursday night and sent lava spilling down on the people below.

To avoid the volcano, many residents of the Congolese town of Goma, located about 10 kilometers from Mount Nyiragongo, fled over the border to Rwanda. On Friday, they were returning to the border town in cars and on foot. They may be forced to flee for a second time, if the volcano continues to rage.

Large parts of Goma, the biggest town in eastern Congo, were reported to have burned Thursday night, as rivers of lava tore through the city. Some of the lava flows were up to 60 meters wide and two meters high.

United Nations officials estimate that more than half the residents of Goma, which has a population of about 350,000 people, fled the town. Eyewitnesses said molten lava destroyed two entire villages, including a school and a Catholic cathedral. Humanitarian agencies are rushing supplies to the afflicted area.

Mount Nyiragongo's last major eruption occurred 25 years ago, killing nearly 2,000 people. An elderly Goma resident said the latest eruption was much worse than the one years ago. She said back then, the lava only just touched the northern limit of the town, whereas, this time, it crossed it from one end to the other.

Goma is controlled by the Congolese Rally for Democracy, a Rwandan-backed rebel group that has been fighting the Kinshasa government since 1988.