The crater, which has been burning off gas for over five decades, was ordered to be "extinguished" due to health and environmental reasons.
Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has ordered the creation of a commission to find a way to extinguish the burning natural gas crater popularly known as the “Gateway to Hell”.
Officially named the Darwaza Crater, it is believed to be the result of a failed oil excavation by Soviet geologists in 1971 after they hit a pocket of natural gas forming three large sinkholes.
Hoping to prevent methane from leaking into the atmosphere, one of the geologists lit one sinkhole on fire thinking it would burn out in a week.
The crater – 70 meters wide and 20 meters deep – continues to burn to this day and is a popular tourist attraction in the vast Karakum desert of central Asia.
Citing health, environmental, and economic concerns, President Berdimuhamedow has instructed officials to, once again, find a way to put out the flames at the Darvaza gas crater.
The crater "negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby," he said, according to Agence France-Presse.
"We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the well-being of our people."
He has previously ordered the closing of the crater back in 2010. Eight years later, he renamed it the ‘Shining of Karakum”.
As of writing, no deadline has been set for extinguishing the crater.
Previous attempts to put it out have been unsuccessful.
Tags: #tourism, #Turkmenistan, #Darwazagascrater