Reporters on the job

• ROOM AT THE INN: As Danna Harman and three colleagues drove into Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, late Friday night to report on the volcanic eruption (page 1), they noticed that all the traffic - including UN and NGO cars - was going in the opposite direction.

"Not a good sign," sighs Danna. "But we pushed ahead. In neaby Gisenyi, we were surprised to find there were lots of rooms available at the local inn - we had thought it would be packed with journalists."

It wasn't until later that she found at that the inn had been full until about an hour before she and her colleagues arrived. It turns out that everyone had evacuating Goma and the border town of Gisenyi when they heard the warning of another eruption, and that the lethal methane gas in the lake would be disturbed by the incoming lava and bubble up into the air. "But, not knowing this at the time we were thrilled to get a room.

A day later, "every journalist in the world" arrived. There were extra matresses put in every room and the hallways. "As if that were not enough to make sleep difficult, tremors were shaking the building wildly all night long every night. Every time a massive tremor shook the building, everyone would run outside and walk around a little to calm one another down. We were wrapped in towels and sheets, and looking not very different from the refugees outside who were doing the very same thing. Between tremors, there were spates of screaming from the lobby downstairs all night long. "Finally, one of us went down to see if a ceiling had fallen down. It was just a massive gathering of refugees watching the Africa Cup soccer matches (page 7) on TV and cheering."


• A CEASEFIRE IN SUDAN: The Sudanese government and the country's main rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) signed a six-month cease-fire agreement Saturday aimed at ending fighting in the Nuba Mountains and allowing humanitarian aid into the region.

The accord, which was due to come into force today, also provides for an international monitoring unit of 10 to 15 foreign observers from countries agreed to by both sides, Agence France Press reports.

As reported in the Jan. 18 Monitor, the Nuba mountains region of central Sudan is only one part of a huge area of the country affected by an 18-year-old civil war which has pitted successive Arab and Muslim governments in Khartoum against the SPLA - mainly composed of animists and Christians from the southern part of the country.

- David Clark Scott

World editor

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