Author Topic: deadly Toxic gas threat lurks beneath DR Congo’s Lake Kivu -Report  (Read 113 times)

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A deadly threat is lurking beneath DR Congo’s Lake Kivu. Rising carbon dioxide could affect millions of residents if engineers fail to stop the gas emission from reaching the water's surface.

Kazana Ragi fears for his village Nzulo. The fisherman and motorcycle taxi driver lives on the Gulf of Kabuno, in the northwest of Lake Kivu. The water is much shallower than the rest of the lake, the risk that carbon dioxide (CO2) escapes here is significantly greater than in the deeper parts.

Locals here are already facing the dangerous threat of the gas emissions. In 2008, it was buried 25 meters below the surface, now it is just 12 meters, said the Ministry of Energy and Water and the Volcanological Observatory at the nearby metropolis of Goma.

Fisherman Ragi believes that the gas is already affecting the livelihoods of people. "If you leave the fishing net long inside the water, the gas destroys it, and if you go into the lake, the skin becomes white. That scares me," the 28-year-old said.

Though such observations have not yet been scientifically proven, local residents are afraid of the carbon dioxide. If something happens and they can not explain it, they quickly put the blame on the gas.

Thomas d'Acquin Muhiti, president of the Civil Association of North Kivu province, understands the panic of his countrymen. Carbon dioxide is very dangerous. "In a short time it can come up and explode," said the civil rights activist.

CO2 is actually nontoxic to humans, but if taken in high concentrations it hinders the absorption of oxygen which could quickly lead to death. Apart from reaching the surrounding villages on the Gulf of Kabuno, a CO2 bubble would also affect the barracks of MONUSCO, the UN peace-keeping mission which is stationed in eastern DR Congo.

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