World`s deadliest volcano in Africa waiting to explode

Mt. Nyiragongo is one of the world`s deadliest volcanoes waiting to explode.

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2011, 21:17 PM IST

London: Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world`s deadliest volcanos, is waiting to explode and turn Goma, a city of a million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, into a modern day Pompeii, a Roman town completely destroyed by volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

But scientists do not know when, since it is in the war-torn eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The two-mile high cauldron of lava is also one of the least understood.

At the base of Nyiragongo sprawls Goma with its numbers swelling by the day as villagers from the countryside seek refuge from rebel and government forces, the journal National Geographic reports.

Twice in recent years Nyiragongo`s eruptions have hit the city, destroying homes and sending residents fleeing. But now, seismologists believe, the risk is not just near the city, but directly beneath it, according to the Daily Mail.

For the past 20 years the region has suffered nearly constant warfare, including a spillover from the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.

Italian seismologist Dario Tedesco has spent the last 15 years studying Nyiragongo, with funding from the European Union.

He has struggled to focus the scientific community`s attention on volcano, and he says there is no doubt it will erupt again.

"Goma is the most dangerous city in the world," Tedesco says.

History suggests he may be right.

In 2002, 350,000 fled after the volcano shot more than 15 million cubic yards of lava into downtown Goma, destroying 14,000 homes and burying buildings to the top of the first floor.

In 1977, lava raced down the mountain, killing several hundred people, even though the flow had hardened before it reached the main part of the city.

But both eruptions were mere grumbles compared with the devastation seismologists believe it is ready to unleash.

IANS