2022 has brought some more interesting news for the pandemic-stricken world. Turkmenistan has announced that it will be closing its blazing natural gas crater known as the “Gateway to Hell.”
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said in televised remarks on Sunday that authorities will restart their efforts in the direction of putting out the huge fire that has been burning for decades in the Karakum Desert, Agence France-Presse reports. Over the years, the crater’s become one of Turkmenistan’s most popular tourist attractions in recent years. It is both intriguing and terrifying.
There had been environmental and economic concerns brought up because of the fire. Berdymukhamedov called for officials to “find a solution to extinguish the fire,” according to AFP. The crater, which measures roughly 200 feet (70 meters) wide and at least 65 feet (20 meters) deep and looks like a fiery portal to another world, “negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby,” he said.
“We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the well-being of our people,” he said via AFP.
This isn’t the first time Berdymukhamedov has tried to close the gates of hell. He ordered experts to extinguish the flames in 2010, but they couldn’t succeed.
Commonly known as the “Gateway to Hell,” the “Mouth of Hell,” and other colorfully apocalyptic nicknames, the Darvaza gas crater has been burning in the Central Asian nation since 1971. Details on the crater’s origin remain a bit of a mystery, but it’s mostly attributed to a Soviet drilling accident wherein the ground beneath a drilling rig gave way after it hit a gas cavern. It is said that the Soviet scientists, having underestimated the amount of fuel beneath their feet, lit the sinkhole on fire to burn off emerging noxious gases and prevent the dangerous fumes from spreading. The crew expected it to burn out in a matter of weeks, but more than 50 years later, the fire is still going strong.