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Thousands left homeless as volcano erupts in DRC

by Donna Birrell

More than seven thousand people have been left homeless after a volcano erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the weekend.

At least 15 people have died and more than 170 children are missing after lava poured into villages near the city of Goma on Saturday.

The International Director of Tearfund, Myles Harrison, told Premier that while the lava flow has now stopped, people returning to the area face devastation :

"We believe that about 1200 houses have been destroyed. And so about 7200 people will be without houses, which is a huge concern, particularly as this is such a vulnerable area of Goma where people have moved down from the north where there has been conflict. It's absolutely devastating, they're returning to their homes, looking for loved ones and finding absolute devastation and whole neighbourhoods wiped out." 

Mount Nyiragongo is one of the world's most active volcanoes, which last erupted in 2002. 

There are reports that several people died in road accidents as they were trying to flee the flow of lava and many families became separated in the panic. 

Myles Harrison says the Church is playing a major role in trying to reunite families :

"It's been a very difficult situation with over 170 children still missing. Churches are opening and saying please, if there's any children that can go there, they will take care of them and for parents to go and see if their children are at those places. So we pray that the people will be reunited with their children very soon."

There are also serious concerns about the area's water supply as Tearfund says more than half a million people have had their supplies cut off by the eruption. 

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