Famous Croatian Travel Writer Kristijan Iličić On Congo Volcano Before it Erupted

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Kristijan Iličić | Kristijan Iličić Facebook
Kristijan Iličić | Kristijan Iličić Facebook

As Jutarnji List reports, news of the eruption of one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Nyiragongo, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has toured the world with dramatic photos of lava pouring down the mountain. As a result, an emergency evacuation of residents of the nearby town of Goma was ordered, so thousands of people fled their homes.

But just a few hours before the giant Nyiragongo woke up, our famous travel writer Kristijan Iličić was at the very top. Moreover, Kristijan spent the night before the eruption at the very top of the volcano, descended from the mountain, and boarded the plane almost at the last minute when the lava threatened the airport itself.


Kristijan Iličić | Kristijan Iličić Facebook

“I am currently in the Republic of Congo. Nyiragongo volcano is located in DRC, near the city of Goma, and I flew with Ethiopian Airlines to this other Congo after the eruption,” says Kristijan, explaining that people sometimes confuse the two Congos.

He says he came to DR Congo to see the mountain gorillas there in Virunga National Park. 

“As we drove towards the national park, we had to be in a convoy of armed rangers because it is one of the most dangerous areas in the world,” says Kristijan, recalling that rebels killed Italian ambassador Luca Attanasi and a police officer there in February this year. 

“It’s a red zone, and there’s been war there for years, so you have to go in protected convoys. It’s not a joke, and the rebels are everywhere. I went there to see mountain gorillas, I saw them, and it was an amazing experience. After two days, I headed to the top of the Nyiragongo volcano, located in the Virunga National Park. I climbed the crater itself, which is 3500 meters high. I spent the night there and watched closely that volcano which is the most active and one of the most dangerous – at least, so they say – volcanoes in the world “, says Kristijan, who was not aware at the time that it was only a few hours away from the eruption.

“That volcano also has the largest lava lake in the world that is constantly boiling and really looks spectacular, especially at night. I slept in a cottage right next to the crater, and in the morning, I drank coffee right by the lava lake. After that, I started to descend because I had a flight to Ethiopia and then to Congo. Although it was only a few hours before the eruption, there was no indication that the volcano would wake up. We got off the mountain and boarded the plane really at the last minute,” says Kristijan.

Nyiragongo volcano in Virunga National Park, which is located less than 20 kilometers north of Goma and not far from the border with Rwanda, erupted on Saturday night. The lava also headed towards Goma, which has about 2 million inhabitants, but stopped before it reached the city.

Residents who left the city and fled to Rwanda began returning to their homes on Sunday morning. Rwandan authorities eased border restrictions to let Goma residents pass.

Most of the lava passed through the national park, the head of the Goma Volcanological Observatory, Celestin Mahinda, told state radio RTNC.

Nyiragongo volcano last erupted in 2002, when lava destroyed large parts of Goma. About 250 people were killed, and 120,000 people were left homeless.

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