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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Volcano Threatens Goma

GENEVA -- Two U.S. geologists are due to arrive in Goma, Zaire on Friday to study a molten lava lake bubbling in a volcano not far from 450,000 Rwandan refugees, the United Nations said.

Sylvana Foa, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees, said the agency would survey the volcano by helicopter. She added that the agency was making contingency plans to evacuate people if needed.

"There has been a marked increase in the activity of a volcano looming over Katale and Kibumba," she said. She noted that the lava's bright reflection could be seen in low-level clouds.

She was referring to two refugee camps north of Goma which shelter more than half of the total 850,000 Rwandans who have fled massacres in their homeland for Goma in eastern Zaire.

The Nyiragongo volcano, 15 kilometers north of Goma, last erupted in 1977, spilling 64 million cubic meters of lava which flowed south, according to UN officials.

The lava covered a distance of 10 kilometers in barely 20 minutes, stopping short of the city but coming within several hundred meters of Goma airport. UN officials said 70 people were reported killed.

The UN also requested the French military to carry out studies of the volcano a month ago, but the results were unclear because of poor weather.