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230ft-wide hole known as 'The Gates Of Hell' has been burning since 1971

230ft-wide hole known as 'The Gates Of Hell' has been burning since 1971

The local president hopes to extinguish the fire ASAP.

If Russia's Kola Superdeep Borehole project didn't feel close enough to the depths of hell, then Turkmenistan might just give it a run for its money.

The Darvaza crater, also known as the 'Gateway to Hell' or 'Doors to Hell' stands as a popular attraction in the Central Asian country - and for its mysterious formation.

Reports say the ominous crater, now measuring 230ft wide and over 65ft deep, marks a burning natural gas field that collapsed into a cavern near the 350-person village of Darvaza.

The crater dates back to 1971 when a Soviet drilling accident hit a gas cavern, causing the drilling rig to fall in and the earth to give way underneath.

To contain the spread of dangerous fumes, the Soviets decided to light up the gas so it would burn out quickly. But, it didn't.

Giles Clarke / Contributor / Getty
Giles Clarke / Contributor / Getty

Instead, the create still burns bright Hundreds of natural gas fires illuminate the floor and rim of the crater in the middle of the vast Karakum desert.

The pit has been ablaze ever since and previous attempts to put it out have been unsuccessful.

The resulting crater – 70 metres (229ft) wide and 20 metres deep – is a popular tourist attraction in the ex-Soviet country.

In 2018, the president officially renamed it the “Shining of Karakum”.

Locals are calling for it to be put out but have since been unsuccessful.

The president of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov called last year to “find a solution to extinguish the fire”.

He's been calling for an end to the fiery structure since 2010, explaining that it causes ecological damage and health issues.

In his words, Berdymukhamedov said that the crater "negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby."

Pavel Gospodinov / Getty
Pavel Gospodinov / Getty

“We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the wellbeing of our people."

While it might sound like a silly question to ask if anyone's been curious to go through the gates, it has been done.

In 2013, George Kourounis became the first person to set foot at the bottom of the crater - and survived.

The scientist was gathering soil samples for the Extreme Microbiome Project and has since wanted to go back into the crater for more research on the "local biome."

Featured Image Credit: Giles Clarke / Contributor / Pavel Gospodinov / Getty