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Scientists Warn of Another Volcano Eruption in DRC - 2002-02-28

Vulcanologists are warning that another volcano is about to erupt in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An eruption in January sent rivers of lava pouring through the city of Goma, in eastern Congo.

Seismic activity in the Mount Nyamuragira volcano in eastern Congo has increased so dramatically that the Volcanic Observatory in Goma has issued warnings about an imminent eruption.

Mount Nyamuragira is less than 20 kilometers from its sister volcano, Mount Nyiragongo, which erupted in January, forcing half a million residents of Goma to flee their homes.

One of the experts at the Volcanic Observatory, Dieudonne Wafulu, said the lava from Nyamuragira is unlikely to reach the city. But he ssaid that does not mean the people there are not in danger.

Mr. Wafulu said there will be problems because the volcanic ash will probably reach Goma, he said, and it could burn all the crops. Sometimes, he said, it even causes deaths.

The scientist has said it is important that people in the area of the volcano are warned about the dangers they face. Mr. Wafulu said there is no need, right now, for an evacuation of Goma, but he said precautions need to be taken once the volcano starts, such as washing thoroughly all vegetables that may have been exposed to volcanic ash.

Mount Nyamurigira erupted most recently in February of last year. Local people were not in any danger then because the lava flowed into a nearby lake, Lake Kivu.

Scientists have said their greatest concern now is seismic activity under the lake. They say it could release toxic gases that would pose a lethal threat to people living around the lake.