The international airport in DR Congo’s eastern city of Goma reopened Saturday, two weeks after a deadly eruption of a nearby volcano, when the prime minister arrived to take stock of the situation.
“The airport is reopened,” Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde said upon disembarking from the plane with other ministers shortly after 2:00 pm (1200 GMT).
“I am happy to finally be here in Goma to bring a message of support,” the premier said.
“We have also come to take stock of the situation in which the displaced find themselves,” he said before heading to the Goma Volcano Observatory.
About 400,000 residents out of an estimated 600,000 left the North Kivu provincial capital after a brief one-day eruption of Nyiragongo, a strato-volcano nearly 3,500 metres (11,500 feet) high that straddles the East African Rift tectonic divide.
Thirty-two people died from lava burns or asphyxiation after the May 22-23 eruption, and two more died in accidents during the exodus.
During a cabinet meeting on Friday, the prime minister said the country’s scientits had observed a decline in volcanic activity in the preceding four days.
“If this trend is maintained, the central government, in agreement with the provincial government, will envisage a progressive and orderly return of the population,” the cabinet said.
During his visit the prime minister will study the security situation in Kivu where the state of siege declared a month ago has been extended by the parliament for another month to fight armed groups.
The same state of siege has been decreed and extended in neighbouring Ituri province.