The city of Goma in eastern DRC was on Saturday thrown into chaos after a nearby volcano erupted for the first time since 2002, spewing dangerous spoke into the air.

Mt Nyiragongo, an active volcano but which had been a in a lull for 19 years, on Saturday started throwing flaming molten rock dust into the air, forcing residents to start fleeing.

Minister for Information and Congolese Government Spokesman Patrick Muyaya said they would assess the risk of the eruption but were, in the immediate term, advising residents close to the mountain to vacate.

“The government is closely monitoring the situation in Goma, particularly the activity of the Nyiragongo volcano. The local authorities are currently assessing the situation with the volcano observatory in Goma, a detailed communication will follow. The public is advised to remain calm,” said Mr Muyaya.

The United Nations mission for the stabilisation of the Congo (Monusco) said it was also “monitoring closely” the situation.

Helicopters flew over the city of Goma on Sunday evening to monitor the volcanoes of Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira, both of which have spewed smoke in the past.

Officials also said the Congolese military will conduct surveillance in collaboration with Rwandan authorities to determine if there will be a need to permanently relocate residents.

The volcano’s eruption in 2002 led to loss of property on one side of Goma and forced residents to flee for dear life.