Volcanic Eruption in North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

As the COVID-19 situation around the world changes, CDC is monitoring COVID-19 risk in each country and making travel recommendations. If you are considering international travel, see CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

Key points

  • On May 22, 2021, Mount Nyiragongo, a volcano in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), erupted without warning.
  • Electricity, drinking water, and food supplies have been adversely affected. Many thousands of people have been displaced.
  • If you must travel to North Kivu province, obey all instructions from local authorities.
North Kivu
Map: North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (see larger map)
Volcanic Eruption Dangers

Volcanoes can produce ash, toxic gases, lava flows, flash floods of hot water, and fast-moving flows of hot gases and debris. When a volcano erupts, some dangers can occur with little or no notice.

Volcanic eruptions can result in additional threats, including mudslides, power outages, contamination of tap water, and wildfires.

Serious health concerns after a volcanic eruption include respiratory illnesses, suffocation, burns, injuries from ashfall, and collapsed structures, infectious diseases, and vehicle accidents related to the conditions caused by ash.

What is the current situation?

On May 22, 2021, Mount Nyiragongo, a volcano about 20 km (12.5 miles) from the city of Goma, erupted. There is ongoing risk of further volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Electricity, drinking water and food supplies have been adversely affected.

CDC recommends that U.S. residents avoid nonessential travel to North Kivu province in the DRC. On May 27, 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, DRC, issued a Security Alert advising U.S. citizens in Goma to follow official evacuation orders and to depart affected areas of the city. The Embassy’s ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens who remain in Goma is limited. Check the U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Alerts and Messages webpage for the latest information.

If you must travel, take steps to protect yourself.

Before Travel

During Travel

Take protective actions after a volcanic eruption

  • Pay attention to warnings and obey instructions from local authorities. Listen to local news updates for information about air and drinking water quality, dangerous road conditions, and other health threats.
  • Avoid contact with ash. Volcanic ash can get into your lungs and airways, making it very hard to breathe. If you must go outside when ash is falling, wear a disposable respirator such as an N-95, or other face mask, and stay out for as short a time as possible. Ash can irritate your skin and eyes. Keep your skin covered and wear goggles.
  • Do not drive unless absolutely necessary. Driving in ash is hazardous. It can also damage engines and make vehicles stall.
  • Drink bottled water. See Food and Water Safety for more information on how to reduce risk of disease from contaminated food and drink.

If you get sick during or after travel

Traveler Information

Clinician Information