Guests arrive safely from Ol Doinyo Lengai just before volcano eruption

Yesterday evening, a Dutch family living in Turnhout, Belgium arrived safely for their stay at Onsea House in Arusha after climbing the Ol Doinyo Lengai and a safari in the Lake Natron area.

The family witnessed several earthquakes in the past days before and during climbing the peak and were luckily back before the volcano erupted yesterday and the area around the volcano was closed for tourists according to the news today.

Thousands of villagers living around Mount Oldonyo Lengai in Ngorongoro District have fled their homes following the volcano eruption triggered by the earth tremors that have recently hit most parts of the northern zone.

Sources say more than 1,500 people, mostly Maasai herdsmen from Ngaresero, Orbalal and Nayobi villages, have abandoned their homes following the tremors, whose impact has also been felt in parts of neighbouring Kenya.

Two earthquakes rated as moderate hit the Oldonyo Lengai (Maasai for “mountain of God”) volcanic mountain at 11:42pm on Sunday and at 12:10am the next day. The first, which measured 5.4 on the Richter scale, had its epicentre 13km east of the volcano.

The second measured 4.7 on the Richter scale and had its epicentre 20km west of the volcano, with volcano experts saying both tremors had a shallow focus at the depth of 10km.

Yet another tremor, this time measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale, hit about 100km (60 miles) away from this municipality on Tuesday evening. It provoked the world’s only active volcano that spews natrocarbonatite lava.

Arusha Regional Police Commander Basilio Matei has cautioned tour operators against taking tourists around Mount Oldonyo Lengai, citing security reasons.

“Tour agencies should not take their visitors anywhere near or around the mountain because one can never tell when the volcano will erupt again” he stated, explaining that many tourists might be interested in witnessing the rare natural phenomenon “but Tanzania is their host and must take all measures possible to guarantee their safety”.

This is the second volcanic eruption to occur in the northern zone since the one in March 2006, which also saw a number of villagers flee their homes for their safety.

An estimated 3,000 people fled to safe ground within hours of the eruption, most trekking to villages in neighbouring districts.

Mount Oldonyo Lengai, standing at 3,450 meters above sea level, is the world’s only active sodium carbonite volcano and doubles as the world’s only volcano that emits natrocarbonatite lava.

Natrocarbonatite lava usually contains almost no silicon and is much cooler in temperature than other lavas.

The highly fluid lava measures 510 degrees Celsius, while basaltic lava that can be as hot as 1,100 degrees Celsius.

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