Flames dance out of cracks in its floor and around the sides, and a burning blast of air emanating from the pit shifts with the wind. The extreme heat and the roar of the flames have a mesmerising effect.
"Soviet geologists started drilling a borehole to prospect for gas at this spot in 1971," said Turkmen geologist Anatoly Bushmakin. "The boring equipment suddenly drilled through into an underground cavern, and a deep sinkhole formed. The equipment tumbled through but fortunately no one was killed." "Fearing that the crater would emit poisonous gases, the scientists took the decision to set it alight, thinking that the gas would burn out quickly and this would cause the flames to go out," Bushmakin said.
But they never did, and now serve as a potent symbol of Turkmenistan's vast gas reserves, believed to be the fourth largest in the world.
"Our main task is to create an attractive image of Turkmenistan as a tourism destination," he said.
You know, for kids:
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