Derweze gas crater at night (archive image): so far, all attempts to extinguish it have failed
Photo: Giles Clarke / Getty Images
The Derweze crater in Turkmenistan has been on fire for five decades.
But now, according to the will of Turkmenistan's ruler Gurbanguli Berdimuchamedow, his throat is finally to be stuffed.
In a speech broadcast on state television, the president instructed officials to find a way to put out the flames.
The crater in the middle of the Karakum Desert, which is also known as the »Gate to Hell«, has become a tourist attraction in the former Soviet republic that attracts thousands of visitors.
The crater was formed in 1971 during a drilling accident by Soviet experts: They drilled into a cavity, the thin earth cover collapsed and a 70-meter-wide and 20-meter-deep hole was created from which large amounts of methane gas escaped.
Finally, to prevent the dangerous fumes from spreading further, the professionals decided to burn it.
But instead of going out after a few days, the fire became a perennial issue.
All deletion attempts were unsuccessful.
In 2018, Berdimuchamedow finally renamed the »Gate to Hell« to »the glow of Karakum«.
In the meantime, however, the authoritarian head of state sees the burning crater in a bad light.
It harms the environment and the health of people living nearby, said Berdimukhamedov.
In addition, the country is losing valuable natural resources from which "considerable profits can be made".
These could be used "to improve the well-being of our population".
For the second time since 2010, the 64-year-old ordered the end of the man-made spectacle
mic / AFP