The president of Turkmenistan has ordered experts to find a way to finally extinguish a massive five-decade-old fire in a giant natural gas crater, labeled the “gateway to hell”.
Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, president of the central Asian country, appeared on state television on Saturday. He told officials to put out the flames at the Darvaza gas crater in the middle of the vast Karakum desert. The president cited environmental and economic concerns.
In 2010, Berdymukhamedov also ordered experts to find a way to put out the flames. They have been burning since a Soviet drilling operation went awry in 1971.
Berdymukhamedov said the human-made crater “negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby”.
Although the crater has become a tourist attraction, Berdymukhamedov has reportedly asked his cabinet to find a way to close the proverbial gates, according to state-run newspaper Neytralny Turkmenistan.
“We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the wellbeing of our people,” he said. Berdymukhamedov instructed officials to “find a solution to extinguish the fire”.
Have a look at its video:
The story goes that in 1971 Soviet geologists were drilling for oil in the desert when they hit a pocket of natural gas. This caused the earth to collapse, forming three large sinkholes. In order to prevent the methane from leaking into the atmosphere, it is rumored that geologists lit one of them on fire. They thought it would burn out in a matter of weeks.
But after Canadian explorer George Kourounis set off on the first expedition to plumb the crater’s depths in 2013, he discovered that no one actually knows how this hellish inferno came to be.
According to local Turkmen geologists, the gaping 69m-wide-by-30m-deep crater formed in the 1960s and was not lit until the 1980s. Yet, because gas and oil were highly prized commodities in Turkmenistan during Soviet rule, it appears any record of the crater’s creation is now classified and top-secret information.
Nonetheless, not everyone seems impressed with the fact that Turkmenistan’s most internationally-recognized site is known as the Gates of Hell. Berdymukhamedov has reportedly ordered the closure of the site
Story Courtesy: The Guardian
What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments section below.