Turkmenistan: ‘Gateway to Hell’

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    • Recently, the President of Turkmenistan has ordered experts to find a way to extinguish a fire in a huge natural gas crater named the Darvaza gas crater.
      • It is also known as the ‘Gateway to Hell’.
      • It has the crater has been burning for the last 50 years

    The rationale behind the order to extinguish it

    • It negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby.
    • Turkmenistan has been at the centre of methane leakages. 
    • Methane is the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, a hazardous air pollutant and greenhouse gas, exposure to which causes 1 million premature deaths every year. 
    • Methane is also a powerful greenhouse gas.

    About ‘Gateway to Hell’

    • Located in the Karakum desert, 260 kilometres away from Ashgabat (Ashgabat (Turkmenistan’s capital).
    • The crater is 69 metres wide and 30 metres deep. 
    • In 2018, the country’s president officially renamed it the “Shining of Karakum”.
    • In 2013, George Kourounis, a Canadian adventurer, was the first person to go inside the crater in an expedition funded by National Geographic.
    • Origin: The details of the origin of the crater are contested but it has been said that the crater was created in 1971 during a Soviet drilling operation. 
    • According to Locals: the crater was formed in the 1960s but wasn’t lit on fire until the 1980s.
      •  It has also been said that since oil and gas were very expensive commodities during Soviet rule, the formation of the crater has remained a confidential piece of information.
    • Tourist attraction: The crater has become a significant tourist attraction in the country. 
    •  It sees around 6,000 tourists per year.

    Source: IE