Half the water supply restored to Congo city destroyed by volcano, airport reopens to light planes

Saturday, January 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Relief workers have restored half the water supply to the city of Goma in eastern Congo, which was devastated by a volcano, U.N. officials said Friday.

Food aid was delivered to Goma on Wednesday and the United Nations expects to reach 55,000 households by the middle of next week, said U.N. associate spokeswoman Marie Okabe.

The Jan. 17 eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, 12 miles north of Goma, destroyed between 30 and 40 percent of the city, and about 80 percent of the business district, U.N. Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ross Mountain told a news conference in Geneva.

Parts of the city of 500,000 are covered by up to 10 feet of lava.

Mountain said there were no reliable figures on casualties.

The lava divided Goma and Okabe said a third road passage between the eastern and western parts of the city was expected to be carved out of the lava on Friday.

``As of today 50 percent of the water distribution is back on line. The other half is expected to be operational in 10 days,'' she said. U.N. peacekeepers and voluntary organizations are distributing water in areas where supplies have not yet been restored.

Local officials in Goma decided Friday morning morning to reopen the airport to light aircraft while engineers continue to study the state of the runway, Okabe said.

Mountain, who just returned from Goma, said volcanologists agreed that the volcano was unlikely to explode again though they remain extremely concerned about the high degree of seismic activity.