Indian Army helps in evacuation during Congo volcanic eruption

New Delhi (IANS) The Indian Army contingent as part of the United Nations mission in Congo protected assets and civilians during evacuation of volcano-affected Goma town on Saturday.

The Indian Army, as part of MONUSCOA– a UN peacekeeping mission headquartered in the Eastern town of Goma and bordering Rwanda– in the Democratic Republic of Congo, held their round and helped in evacuation of local people during volcanic eruption. The Indian Brigade headquarters is located adjacent to the Goma airfield.

Mount Nyaragongo, an active volcano overlooks Goma town erupted in and spewed lava, gases and sediments at around 6.30 p.m. on May 22, 2021, resulting in panic within the civilian population due to unsubstantiated reports regarding the direction and potency of the lava flow.

Most of the lava, however, has flowed towards Rwanda and only a small stream is trickling towards Goma. As a precautionary measure, various country contingents were told to be on alert by the UN’s internal security system who calculated that evacuation will not be required.

However, a majority of the country contingents including aviation contingents evacuated immediately.

The Indian Brigade headquarters held their ground and in a calculated and calm manner, thinned out 70 per cent of the strength of the camp and sent them to the Himbi Company Operating Base (COB) for safety.

A minimum strength continued to hold onto the Camp ensuring no threat to UN and National assets as also providing security to empty Aviation base and Aviation fuel stored there.

An Observation Point is also established that is giving real time updates of the lava flow to the Brigade HQ, enabling them to pass the correct information to UN and hence creating a semblance of orderliness in the civilian evacuation.

Currently, it is ascertained that the lava flow has considerably slowed down. Lava flow at this stage is unlikely to reach Goma town unless there is fresh eruption through fissures. Intermittent earthquakes of very low intensity are being currently experienced.

“Actions by the Indian contingent in the face of imminent danger has facilitated the smooth evacuation and protection of civilians and other UN personnel in Goma,” Indian Army stated.

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