Turkmenistan plans to close its burning ‘gate to hell’

Photo: Giles Clarke (Getty Images)

The past few years have felt like a test drive of living through the end times. Fortunately, 2022 looks promising: Turkmenistan plans to shut down the burning natural gas crater known as the “Gateway to Hell,” presumably to prevent the other three horsemen of the apocalypse from following their mate Pestilence through it.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said in televised comments on Sunday that authorities will renew efforts to extinguish a massive fire that has been burning in the Karakum desert for decades. Agence France-Presse reports. As terrifying as it is fascinating, the crater has become one of Turkmenistan’s most popular tourist attractions in recent years.

Citing environmental and economic concerns, Berdymukhamedov called on officials to “find a solution to extinguish the fire,” according to AFP. The crater, which is about 70 meters wide and at least 20 meters deep and looks like a fiery gateway to another world, “is negatively impacting both the environment and the health of the people who live nearby,” he said. said.

“We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could make significant gains and use them to improve the well-being of our people,” he said via AFP.

This is not the first time Berdymukhamedov has tried to close the gates of hell. He instructed experts to put out the flames in 2010, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Commonly known as the “Gate to Hell”, the “Mouth of Hell”, and other colorful apocalyptic nicknames, the Darvaza gas crater has been ablaze in the Central Asian nation since 1971. Details about the crater’s origins remain a bit of a mystery, but it’s usually attributed to a Soviet drilling accident in which the ground collapsed under an oil rig after hitting a gas cavern. The story goes that Soviet scientists, underestimating the amount of fuel under their feet, set fire to the sinkhole to burn emerging noxious gases and prevent the dangerous vapors from spreading. The crew expected it to burn out within weeks, but more than 50 years later, the fire is still ongoing.

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