Turkmenistan’s president has ordered the “Gateway to Hell” fire, which has been blazing for decades in a massive desert gas crater, to be extinguished.
Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov wants it to be released for environmental and health concerns, as well as to boost gas exports.
The formation of the Darvaza crater in the Karakum Desert is shrouded in mystery.
Many people assume it arose from a botched Soviet drilling operation in 1971.
However, in 2013, Canadian explorer George Kourounis investigated the crater’s depths and determined that no one understands how it began.
The massive crater was formed in the 1960s, but first illuminated in the 1980s, according to local Turkmen geologists.
One of Turkmenistan’s most renowned tourist attractions is the crater.
In televised remarks, the president added, “We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could make enormous profits and use them to improve the well-being of our people.”
“Find a solution to extinguish the fire,” he told officials.
Several attempts to put out the fire have been made, including one in 2010 when Mr Berdymukhamedov instructed experts to find a way to do it.
The president formally called it the Shining of Karakum in 2018.