'Door to hell': Remarkable drone footage shows fire that has been burning for 40 years

'The crater’s story is fascinating,' says Italian photographer Alessandro Belgiojoso

Toyin Owoseje
Tuesday 19 March 2019 14:33 GMT
Door to hell: Drone footage shows Darvaza gas crater, Turkmenistan that has been burning for 40 years

An Italian photographer has captured aerial footage of a crater that has burned continually in the middle of the desert for more than four decades.

Dubbed “the Door to Hell”, the Darvaza crater is a 69m wide, 30m deep hole located 150 miles from Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat.

It was accidently created when a group of Soviet engineers were exploring for sources of natural gas saw their rig collapse in 1971.

Alessandro Belgiojoso used a drone to take HD pictures and footage of the fiery pit.

“Some miscalculation led to machinery and most probably also operating engineers falling into the ground,” he said.

“As gas poured into the atmosphere, making it impossible to live in small villages even at great distance in the desert, the best option was to light up the gas and wait until the gas field would eventually dry up."

He added: “This story is not something to be proud of and tourism is not really welcomed by the authorities.”

In 2013 explorer George Kourounis descended into the crater, where the heat can reach 1,000C (1,830F). He hoped to find evidence of life, as such a discovery could provide valuable insights into what may or may not be living on hot, volatile planets.

He said at the time: “Since this was something nobody had ever done before there was a lot of uncertainty and questions. How hot was it at the bottom? Is the air breathable? Will the ropes survive? What if something goes wrong?

“Nobody knew the answers - not even me. When I actually set foot at the bottom it was an overwhelming feeling.

“I was in a spot where no human had ever been. It was like stepping onto an alien planet - more people have been on the moon. It was exciting, adventurous, dangerous, a world first and a contribution to science. The expedition had everything I love.”

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