Turkmen president orders scientists to extinguish 'Gates of Hell'

The Gates of Hell will be CLOSED! Turkmenistan president orders ministers to find experts who can seal off the 230ft-wide methane-belching crater that has been burning since 1971

  • Turkmenistan’s president Berdimuhamedov has ordered a fiery crater in the Karakum Desert be extinguished
  • The ‘Gates of Hell’ has been burning constantly ever since it was ignited by bungling Soviet scientists in 1971
  • Belching methane constantly, the 230ft-wide crater stays alight only by burning up a valuable resource 
  • President Berdimuhamedov said the fire hurts locals’ health at the same time as wasting saleable methane
  • Thousands of tourists flock to Karakum desert every year to get a look at the flaming hole in the ground 

One of the world’s most brutal autocrats has announced that he plans to close the ‘Gates of Hell’.

Former dentist Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has ordered his ministers in reclusive Turkmenistan to find world experts who can seal off a giant crater that has been burning for half a century.

The methane gas-belching sinkhole Darvaza has been ablaze since Soviet scientists ignited it in 1971.

The scary 230ft-wide crater – permanently on fire – can be seen from miles around.

It is known as the ‘Gates of Hell’ or ‘Mouth of Hell’, and is located in the Karakum Desert, about 160 miles north of capital city Ashgabat.  

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has ordered that the ‘Mouth of Hell’ be extinguished, saying the methane-belching pit dirties the air, while at the same time representing a lost opportunity to capture saleable gas for the impoverished country

The fiery pit, which is 70ft deep and 230ft wide, is located in the Karakum Desert, about 160 miles north of the capital city Ashgabat

The eccentric Berdimuhamedov – notorious for human rights abuses and crushing any opposition – has ordered officials to stop the environmental damage caused by the constant blaze.

The health of locals is being hit by the ceaseless fire, he warned. 

‘We are creating – and will continue to create – all necessary conditions for the development of the colossal hydrocarbon resources of our independent Motherland, in the interests of our people,’ he said, explaining his decision to stop the inferno.

In 2010, Mr Berdymukhamedov ordered experts to extinguish the flames, but the ‘Mouth of Hell’ could not be made to stop burning. 

Three years later, the Turkmen leader declared the area surrounding the fiery crater a natural reserve, turning it into a tourist trap, with thousands drawn to the burning ‘Mouth of Hell’ each year.

The 64-year-old autocrat has previously erected a giant 68ft gold leaf statue to himself, and another to Turkmenistan’s most famous dog.

He writes rap songs, is a keen DJ, and takes part in classic car, horse and cycle races which he invariably wins because his people are too scared to beat him.

In August 2019, the Turkmen president released a video of himself rallying a race car around the ‘Mouth of Hell’ in response to rumours he was dead after a month-long absence from public appearances.

In 2010, Mr Berdymukhamedov issued an identical order for the fiery pit to be put out, but without success

The ‘Mouth of Hell’ has been burning since 1971 when it was ignited by bungling Soviet scientists who had been trying to tap natural gas in the area

Ministers have been ordered by Berdimuhamedov – in power for 16 years – to find experts from anyway in the word to ensure that the Turkmen hell freezes over.

The 70ft deep crater ignited when bungling Soviet scientists aimed to tap natural gas in the area.

The upper layers of soil collapsed into an underground cave, opening a large hole filled with gas.

To avoid gas poisoning local people and livestock, geologists ignited it – and it is still burning.

They believed the fire would subside within weeks.

In November 2013, it was found by Canadian explorer George Kourounis that unique bacteria survive at the bottom of the crater despite the roasting temperatures.

The crater is one of Turkmenistan’s main tourist attractions but also a cause of environmental blight.

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