By Chris King •
Updated: 04 Jun 2022 • 15:36
A 230-feet wide, 70-feet deep chasm – the Darvaza gas crater – located in the middle of Turkmenistan’s Karakum Desert, is known locally as the ‘Gates Of Hell’. About 150 miles north of Ashgabat, the country’s capital city, this huge sinkhole has been on fire since 1971.
Many rumours abound as to the origin of this unique entity, one of the most believable is that it was created by the Soviets, while searching for gas deposits in the barren desert back in the 1970s. While conducting their work, it is thought that ground layers collapsed inwards and left this huge crater.
The crater subsequently became filled with dangerous gas, so the Soviet engineers set fire to it, hoping that the pockets of gas would burn their supply out within a few weeks. That was 51 years ago, and it is still continuously burning, visible for many miles around at night time.
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has the reclusive country’s 64-year-old strongarm president for 16 years, and has instructed the nation’s scientists to come up with a way of extinguishing the flames, and sealing the crater permanently. He believes that the noxious fumes produced by the flames are bad for the health of locals.
This is quite a U-turn by the president, as back in 2010 he had also asked experts to close the ‘Gates Of Hell’, but they failed. As a result, three years later, he decided to turn the flaming pit into a tourist attraction – subsequently visited by thousands of people every year – and declared the surrounding area a natural reserve.
In 2019, to dispel rumours that he had died, he even had a video made as he drove a rally car around the hole, doing donuts, and having a wonderful time behind the wheel.
Explaining his decision to extinguish the flames, he said, “We are creating – and will continue to create – all necessary conditions for the development of the colossal hydrocarbon resources of our independent Motherland, in the interests of our people”.
Berdimuhamedov has allegedly instructed his country’s ministers to search all over the world for experts who can accomplish this task. Whether he can finally shut the ‘Gates Of Hell’ forever remains to be seen, as reported by metro.co.uk.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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