2nd LD Writethru: Lava reaches Goma airport in DR Congo after volcanic eruption, residents urged to evacuate

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KINSHASA, May 23 (Xinhua) -- A lava flow reached the airport of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s eastern city of Goma on Sunday after the eruption of the nearby Mount Nyiragongo volcano and authorities have announced evacuation plans, local media reported.

The evacuation plan for Goma has been activated, said government spokesman Patrick Muyaya.

"The government is discussing urgent measures to be taken now," Muyaya tweeted.

Thousands of Goma residents have fled the city on foot to reach the border with Rwanda as the city with a population of nearly 2 million was illuminated with orange flames.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi is returning from Europe to oversee the relief efforts and is closely monitoring the security and humanitarian situation in the country's eastern North Kivu province, the presidency said.

North Kivu Governor, Lt. Gen. Ndima Kongba Constant, said in a televised address on Saturday that local civil defense forces started evacuating Goma residents following the eruption of the volcano.

The Nyiragongo volcano, located not far from the DR Congo's border with Rwanda, started to erupt on Satuday. According to the Goma-based volcanological monitoring office, the lava is heading towards the border with Rwanda.

The city of Goma is home to two active volcanoes -- Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo. The last time a major Nyiragongo eruption occurred was in 2002, when about 250 people were killed and 120,000 others were left homeless.

The eruption of Nyiragongo is similar to its eruption in 2002, said the authorities, adding that other districts of the city were not in danger as the lava was unlikely to reach those areas.

Earlier, General Constant Ndima, military governor of North Kivu province, of which Goma is capital, appealed for calm and urged people to follow the guidance of civil protection units. Enditem

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