Turkmenistan Wants Its Famed Gates Of Hell Closed: Report

Turkmenistan Wants Its Famed Gates Of Hell Closed: Report

World


Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov asked his deputy prime minister and son Serdar Berdymukhamedov to put out the fire and shut down the famed ‘Gates of Hell’ also known as ‘Darvaza Crater’ citing that it is causing health issues in residents among several other reasons, according to reports by news agencies.

The Turkmen strongman asked the deputy prime minister to consult experts and even call upon foreign consultants to oversee the closure of the crater. Berdymukhamedov said that the government should focus on stopping wastage of valuable natural gas resources and counter environmental damage.

The Gates of Hell is a crater located about 260 kilometers (160 miles) north of the capital, Ashgabat, and is about 60 meters in diameter and 20 meters deep. The crater was formed in 1971 when an oil-drilling experiment undertaken by Soviet Union geologists went awry. The geologists then set fire to the crater hoping that the natural gas trapped inside would burn off within a few weeks.

The fires in the crater have burnt ever since.

The location is also a famous tourist attraction and the strongman ruler himself was seen speeding around it in an SUV in 2019. “We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the well-being of our people. It negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby,” Berdymukhamedov said according to a report by the AFP.

This is not the first time that Berdymukhamedov wanted the Darvaza Crater closed. He ordered it earlier in 2010 as well, according to a report by news agency Newsweek.

‘Otherworldly’

The only person to ever descend into the Gates of Hell is Canadian explorer George Kourounis, who achieved this feat in 2013. Kourounis, according to a report by news agency BBC, however contends that the sinkhole may have been formed in the 1960s and the fire may not have been lit until the 1980s.

Kourounis descended down the crater after two years of preparation dressed in a special heat resistant suit and self-contained air and spent 17 minutes in the crater. “I was able to drop down in the center and spend 17 minutes at the bottom in what felt like another planet. It really was otherworldly,” he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

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