The door to Hell

Normal, Weekender

The National, Friday 03rd August 2012

AT first glance, it could be a dramatic scene from a science-fiction movie.
But this giant hole of fire in the heart of the Karakum Desert is not the aftermath of an attack on Earth, launched from outer space.
It is a crater made by geologists more than 40 years ago, and the flames within have been burning ever since.
Welcome to Derweze in Turkmenistan – or, as the locals have called it, ‘The Door to Hell’.
Soviet geologists were drilling at the site in 1971 and tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas.
But the ground beneath the drilling rig col¬lapsed, leaving a hole with a diameter of 70 metres.
Fearing that the hole would lead to the release of poisonous gases, the team decided to burn it off.
It was hoped that the fire would use all the fuel within days, but the gas is still burning today.
The flames generate a golden glow which can be seen for miles around Derweze, a vil¬lage with a population of about 350.
The site is about 260 kilometres north of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.
In April 2010 the country’s president, Gur¬banguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed but this is yet to happen.
The Karakum Desert, which covers much of Turkmenistan, lies east of the Caspian Sea.
The Aral Sea is located to the north and the Amu Darya river and the Kyzyl Kum Desert lie to the north-east.
The area has significant oil and natural gas deposits. – Mail Online
The hole attracts visitors, more than 40 years after Soviet geologists drilled at the site
The blaze began when geologists decided to burn off natural gas they discovered while drilling at the site
The hole was formed in 1971 when ground beneath a drilling rig collapsed