Here’s why The Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan may close for ever

Burning  in the Karakum Desert since 1971, Darvaza Crater or The Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan is a popular tourist site.
The gates of hell | darvaza gas crater in turkmenistan
Darvaza Crater has been burning for over 50 years now! Image: Shutterstock/Matyas Rehak.

Located near the little village of Darvaza in the hot expansive Karakum Desert, The Gates of Hell’ in Turkmenistan, is a 230-feet-wide hole on fire since 1971. The Darvaza Crater, as it is known, is the region’s best-kept secret, and both locals and tourists arrive here to spot its fiery glow from miles afar.

However, as from the latest report, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow recently appeared on state television telling officials to put out the flames at the giant natural gas crater. Berdimuhamedow said that the burning crater “negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby”, and that Turkmenistan is “losing valuable natural resources, for which we could get significant profits.”

The gates of hell in turkmenistan
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Central Asian country. Image: Shutterstock/velirina.

‘The Gates of Hell’ was created over 50 years ago, during a Soviet drilling accident that hit a gas cavern, causing the ground to collapse and the entire drilling rig to fall in. Having punctured a pocket of gas, poisonous fumes began leaking at an alarming rate. In order to prevent the dangerous fumes from spreading, the officials had, back then, decided to burn it off by setting the gas on fire. Instead, a vast natural reservoir of flammable methane gas caught it, and the pit has been burning ever since. Unfortunately enough, it has even grown bigger in size over the years, standing at 229-feet wide and 65-feet deep today.

Despite its dangerous fumes and raging flames, people still trek into the desert to witness the site in all its blazing glory, especially at night.  Berdymukhamedov has reportedly asked his cabinet to find a way to permanently close the proverbial gates. The Soviets have made many attempts over time to put out the flames but in vain. Turkmenistan possesses the world’s fourth largest reserves of natural gas in its underground, intending to significantly increase its export of gas to many countries by 2030.

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