The Gates of Hell have become a popular tourist attraction in Turkmenistan. The massive crater next to the village of Derweze in the Kara-kum desert has been repeatedly featured by media outlets around the world. Now the attraction may cease to exist – if we can find a way to extinguish the fire, which is what Kurbankuła Berdimuhamedov, ruling in Turkmenistan, wants.
According to the most frequently cited version of events, the crater was formed in 1971, when the country was part of the Soviet Union. Fossil fuel exploration was carried out in the Derweze area. Methane was found at the site where oil was expected. During the drilling, geologists found a gas pocket. As a result of the work, the ground above it collapsed, engulfing the equipment, creating a crater 20 meters deep and approximately 70 meters wide. Methane gas began to leak from it. To solve the new problem, it was decided to set fire in the hope that the gas would burn out. However, the fire in the crater has been going on continuously for over 50 years.
However, Canadian explorer George Kourounis explored the crater in 2013, as reported by the BBC, and according to his findings, it is not at all certain as to who or when started the fire. According to Turkmen geologists, the crater itself was to be built in the 1960s, and the fire – much later, in the 1980s.
Regardless of the causes of the fire, Berdimuhamedov, who has been ruling the country since 2006, wants it to be extinguished.
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Can the fire be extinguished?
According to france24.com, the Turkmen dictator, in a statement on state television, instructed experts to find a way to extinguish the fire.
He stated that the fire had a negative impact on the environment and the health of the local residents. He also said that the country was losing a valuable resource that could bring profits and prosperity to its citizens.
However, closing Hell’s Gate may not be easy, and previous attempts have failed. Berdimuhamedov visited the site in 2010 and it was also decided then that the fire in the crater should be extinguished.