Is Goma the most dangerous place on earth?


Alan Kasujja BBC Africa Daily podcast

Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

Over the past couple of weeks, it has erupted once again, spewing fast-flowing lava down its slopes – some of it headed for the city of Goma a few kilometres away.

Thousands of homes have been destroyed, and dozens of people killed.

It’s not the first time Mount Nyiragongo has erupted. In 1977 more than 600 people died, and in 2002 around 250 people were killed after lava flow.

James Nzavwala, runs the Goma Serena Hotel. He told me he had to evacuate his hotel guests to Kinshasa because – as he put it – “the eruption was one thing but the lava flow something else”. He said nobody really knew “what was going to happen next”.

Lava flow from Mount Nyiragongo

Getty ImagesCopyright: Getty Images

Scientists say Mount Nyiragongo is a relatively young volcano and still has a lot of life left in it.

Adalbert Muhindo, from the Goma Volcano Observatory, told me that Mount Nyiragongo has the biggest permanent lava lake of any volcano in the world.

He said as a scientist living in Goma he’s helped identify “the least vulnerable areas where people can live”.

Mr Muhindo has put together a map that charts possible lava flows. He says “those zones should not be used to build infrastructure”.

In today’s episode of Africa Daily, I’m looking at how dangerous a place Goma is to live in because of Mount Nyiragongo and what can be done to make people safe.