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Gates of Hell: Turkmenistan plans to close its blazing gas crater

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A tourist destination in Turkmenistan called the “Gates of Hell” could soon be extinguished. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is calling for the closure of the blazing natural gas crater that has been burning since the 1970s.

The Darvaza crater located about 160 miles north of the capital, Ashgabat,  formed when the ground collapsed during a Soviet gas drilling expedition in the Karakum desert.

“There’s a lot of controversy as to how we believe it was formed. Essentially there was a sinkhole that formed and caused a drilling rig basically harvesting this methane gas to collapse,” explorer George Kourounis said. Kourounis was part of the first-ever expedition to descend into the fiery gas crater back in 2013.

Berdimuhamedow has ordered his government to look for ways to put the fire out. According to the state-run newspaper Neytralny Turkmenistan, the crater is causing ecological damage and affecting the health of people living in the area.

At present, there is no set deadline for closing the Darvaza crater or extinguishing the fire.

MAHMOUD BENNETT:

THIS RAGING INFERNO MIGHT LOOK LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A MOVIE – BUT IT’S VERY REAL.
IT’S THE DARVAZA GAS CRATER, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE GATES OF HELL.

IT SPANS 190 FEET AND HAS BEEN SPEWING OUT FIRE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE KARAKUM DESERT FOR DECADES.
AND NOW THE PRESIDENT OF TURKMENISTAN HAS ORDERED OFFICIALS TO FIND A WAY TO PUT IT OUT.

GEORGE KOUROUNIS:

THERE’S A BIT OF CONTROVERSY AS TO HOW WE BELIEVE IT WAS FORMED. MOST SEEM TO BELIEVE IT HAPPENED IN 1971 BUT THERE’S EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST IN HAPPENED IN THE 1960’S AND WASN’T ACTUALLY LIT ON FIRE UNTIL THE 1980’S.

MAHMOUD BENNETT:

THE GOVERNMENT SAYS THE GAS CRATER IS CAUSING ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE AND AFFECTING THE HEALTH OF PEOPLE LIVING NEARBY – BUT THIS EXPLORER SAYS IT’S MIXED MESSAGING.

GEORGE KOUROUNIS:

THERE ARE NO LOCALS. THIS IS A VERY REMOTE PART OF THE DESERT. IT HAS BEEN IMPLIED THAT PART OF THE REASON IS FINANCIAL.

MAHMOUD BENNETT:

THE FIERY PIT IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN TURKMENISTAN – WHERE TOURISM IS A RELATIVELY SMALL INDUSTRY.
DO YOU THINK IT’S TIME FOR THE GATES OF HELL TO BE EXTINGUISHED?

LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

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A tourist destination in Turkmenistan called the “Gates of Hell” could soon be extinguished. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is calling for the closure of the blazing natural gas crater that has been burning since the 1970s.

The Darvaza crater located about 160 miles north of the capital, Ashgabat,  formed when the ground collapsed during a Soviet gas drilling expedition in the Karakum desert.

“There’s a lot of controversy as to how we believe it was formed. Essentially there was a sinkhole that formed and caused a drilling rig basically harvesting this methane gas to collapse,” explorer George Kourounis said. Kourounis was part of the first-ever expedition to descend into the fiery gas crater back in 2013.

Berdimuhamedow has ordered his government to look for ways to put the fire out. According to the state-run newspaper Neytralny Turkmenistan, the crater is causing ecological damage and affecting the health of people living in the area.

At present, there is no set deadline for closing the Darvaza crater or extinguishing the fire.

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