Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has ordered the closure of ‘Gates of Hell,’ a fire that has been burning for decades in a huge desert gas crater.
Officially named the Darvaza Gas Crater, the same as the town where it is located, the fire pit of Karakum desert is one of the main attractions of tourists in Turkmenistan.
However, the president urged for its closure due to health hazards and air pollution. Moreover, Turkmenistan can profit by harnessing the gas properly and then exporting it.
According to a BBC report, in televised remarks, the president said, "We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the well-being of our people".
According to the state-run newspaper Neytralny Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan's deputy prime minister was instructed to gather scientists and if necessary, to attract foreign consultants and find a solution for extinguishing the fire.
There are many controversies regarding the origin of the Gates of Hell. Some say it occurred due to a drilling operation mishap by the Soviet Union in 1971. Whereas local Turkmen geologists claim that the huge crater formed in the 1960s and lit in the 1980s.
However, according to tests done on the crater’s depths in 2013 by Canadian explorer George Kourounis, it is impossible to say how the fire started.
Previously, there were many initiatives taken to end the fire. In 2010, president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov also gave similar orders to experts to find a way to put out the flames.