Tens of thousands of people are trying to escape the Congolese city of Goma after authorities issued an evacuation order warning that the Mount Nyiragongo volcano could erupt again.
At least 31 people have died and 30,000 were forced to flee their homes when the volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) first erupted over the weekend.
Since then, the area has experienced a series of earthquakes and tremors, some that were felt as far away as the Rwandan capital of Kigali, 65 miles from the volcano in the Virunga National Park.
Significant cracks in the ground have begun to appear. There is fear of buildings collapsing.
“The data from seismic activity indicates the presence of magma beneath the urban area of Goma and beneath the Kivu lake,” the military governor of North Kivu province, General Constant Ndima, said during a news conference on Thursday.
“Because of this data we cannot exclude another eruption on the earth or under the lake, this could arrive without any warning,” he added, urging people to follow the order and warning them to stay away from the lava.
“You could die from asphyxiation or suffer serious burns,” he said.
Goma is the capital of the North Kivu province, sitting at the edge of Lake Kivu on the DRC border with Rwanda.
According to official projections from the United Nations, World Bank and others, the city is home to approximately 670,000 people. However a number of nongovernmental organizations in the region say the population closer to 1 million.
The sudden exodus of people has caused major gridlock at the DRC-Rwanda border, with traffic heading away from the city at a standstill.
The eruption has damaged power and water supplies to the city. As of Wednesday, power had been partially restored, but water supplies were still cut.
The initial eruption destroyed at least 900 houses and flattened five schools, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).