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Marist Bulletin - Number 4

 

Goma is burning
18.01.2002

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The eruption of the Nyiragongo Volcano demolishes Goma, a city in the east of Congo

A river of lava coming from the Nyiragongo volcano has destroyed many dwelling places in the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (area: 2.267.600 km2; population: 53.624.718 inhabitants). Goma (with about 400.000 inhabitants) is situated on the shores of Lake Kivu some ten kilometers from the volcano. It has two Marist communities, that of Lwanga College, and that of the provincial house.
News has reached us directly from Brothers Masumbuko, Vice-Provincial, from Kinshasa, and Kabanguka, District Superior of Rwanda, from Kigali. Brother Richard Mutumwa, Provincial of Congo, is currently isolated in the Community of Kindu at some 500 Km from Goma, where he is making his annual visitation.
“The situation is worrying. The Brothers from Goma passed the night in Giseny, a city on the frontier with Rwanda. They returned to the provincial house to pick up some belongings and to seek refuge without yet knowing where.
Lwanga co-educational college (a Marist secondary centre with some thousand students) and the attached community residence have disappeared. The CO classrooms and the administration block, as well as the science department classrooms have been converted into a large mass of black rock. Some classrooms remain intact, but it is difficult to know how much longer they can resist. The cathedral no longer exists. The city has been divided in two.
The Majengo, Virunga and Oficce quarters have been destroyed except from some houses on higher ground. In the centre of town the lave has stopped near La Michaudière (the butchery) next to the money exchange. At this level, the lava has taken a path along the lake and is approaching the houses of Maman Mgeayo, in the vicinity of the provincial house. At the moment the Bank intersection is intact, as also the Great Lakes Hotel and the Holy Spirit parish church. The novitiate, school and residence of the Ursuline Sisters are huge blocks of black stone. Three gas stations surrounding them exploded and caused much destruction. The monastery and school of the Bernardine Sisters have been three-quarters destroyed. The Faraja and Maendeleo Institutes have ceased to exist, as have also the Chipuko and Karisimbi primary schools.
Up until 9 a.m., the airport was intact. It is not known what has happened in the other part of the city. The monastery of the Carmelite Fathers remains intact.
All these details may say little to those who do not know the city of Goma, but for those who have lived here, they are significant indeed.
May God spare us epidemics flowing from the catastrophic conditions in which the people find themselves since yesterday, without water or electricity.
Let us carry our Brothers and all the people of Goma in our prayers.
We will keep you up to date with further details.
Fraternal greetings to all the Brothers and especially to our students.”

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