This is Steve Ember theVOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS.
Last week, a volcano exploded in the Democratic Republic ofCongo. Hot melted rock from Mount Nyiragongo flowed into the easterncity of Goma. Most of the about four-hundred thousand people wholive in Goma fled the city. Many crossed the nearby border into theRwandan town of Gisenyi.
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As many as one-hundred people arebelieved to have died in the lava flow and fires that resulted. Butofficials have not yet confirmed an official number of dead.
The thick river of melted rockburned a path through the center of Goma. The lava has since cooledand hardened into volcanic rock. It is about fifty meters wide andone meter thick. People walk on top of it to get from one side oftown to the other.
Officials estimate the lava and fires damaged eighty percent ofGoma. Thousands of houses were completely destroyed. The lava andfires also destroyed businesses leaving most people without jobs.
Rwanda established two camps in Gisenyi for the refugees. Aninternational emergency aid program was based in Gisenyi also. Yet,very few of the Congolese refugees stayed long enough to receive aidthere. Most returned quickly to Goma. They said they would ratherdie at home than stay in Rwanda. The Rwandan government supports theCongolese rebels who control the territory around Goma.
Most aid groups did not move their workers to Goma untilWednesday when they felt the situation was safe enough. The town hasbeen experiencing small earthquakes since the first volcanoexplosion. This has caused concern that another major explosion ispossible. The aid workers were not able to get supplies to largenumbers of people in need until almost a week after the volcanoexplosion. The Congolese government criticized the slow reaction ofthe aid groups.
United Nations agencies have askedfor fifteen million dollars from countries to provide food, shelterand medicines for the people of Goma. Thursday, the U-N World FoodProgram provided two-hundred sixty metric tons of food. That isenough to feed about seventy-thousand people for a week. Aid groupsalso are providing blankets and materials to make temporaryshelters.
The United States is sending five-thousand metric tons of foodand a team of experts to Goma immediately. The team members willexamine health, food and security issues in the Congolese city.Belgium, Britain, Germany and the European Commission also havepromised millions of dollars of aid.
Aid workers now say there is safe drinking water for some areasof Goma. But there are concerns about the spread of cholera andother diseases in areas where there is no safe water.
This VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS was written by CatyWeaver. This is Steve Ember.