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Dictator Orders Earth's 'Door To Hell' Be Extinguished And Closed

Dictator Orders Earth's 'Door To Hell' Be Extinguished And Closed

After consistently burning for more than 50 years, it looks like the Darvaza Gas Crater's days are numbered.

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

The leader of Turkmenistan has ordered the Darvaza Gas Crater be extinguished.

The crater is colloquially referred to by tourists as the 'Door to Hell' because of its incredible and ominous burning pit.

Originally found over 50 years ago, the landmark is hidden deep in the Karakum Desert, and it's not the easiest place to get to.

Soviet scientists reportedly were on the hunt for oil in the region when their rig collapsed. Worried that dangerous gases would be released into the atmosphere, the team set it alight and thought the natural gas reserves would burn off in a few weeks.

That was five decades ago and it's still burning just as hot and bright as that first day.

The crater itself is 69 metres-wide, 30 metres-deep and can reach temperatures of over 1,000C in certain spots.

However, it looks like the days of being able to drive over to the site are numbered.

Turkmenistan's leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered for the gas crater to be closed due to environmental and economic concerns, according to the Associated Press.

Experts in the Central Asian country have been tasked with finding a solution to the crater since 2010. That's despite the leader declaring the site the 'Shining of Karakum' four years ago.

President Berdymukhamedov wants to fast track the crater's extinguishing because it 'negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby'.


In an address on state television, he said: "We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the wellbeing of our people."

The country hold the fourth largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is hoping to export it en masse Pakistan, China, India, Iran, Russia and Western Europe by 2030, according to Forbes.

Explorer George Kourounis managed to descend into the pit and he was shocked to find bacteria living inside the crater despite it being so hot.

He said to National Geographic: "Since this was something nobody had ever done before there was a lot of uncertainty and questions. How hot was it at the bottom? Is the air breathable? Will the ropes survive? What if something goes wrong?

"Nobody knew the answers - not even me. When I actually set foot at the bottom it was an overwhelming feeling.

"I was in a spot where no human had ever been. It was like stepping onto an alien planet - more people have been on the moon. It was exciting, adventurous, dangerous, a world first and a contribution to science. The expedition had everything I love."

It's not clear how long until the crater is officially filled in and extinguished but it's clear the Turkmen President is focused on blowing it out soon.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, travel