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The Daily Need

Photo: Light my fire

The Door to Hell in Turkmenistan, April 2010. Photo: Flickr/flydime

Nothing says “destination wedding” like a trip to the “Door to Hell.” If you find yourself in Turkmenistan any time soon, take a day trip to the Derweze area (also called Darvaza). Here, in the middle of the desert, is a 230 foot pit of fire that locals affectionately call the “Door to Hell.”

In 1971, geologists drilling in the area accidentally tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas, and promptly lost their drilling rig, when a large hole opened up beneath them. Engineers decided it would be safer to burn off the escaping gas instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, as methane is a potent greenhouse gas. They assumed the fire would burn off the remaining gas after a few days. It’s still burning. It has been 40 years.

The president of Turkmenistan has ordered that the hole be closed after a visit to the site in April 2010, so get your tickets soon. If a trip to the gas-rich Turkmenistan desert just isn’t in the cards for your family this year, here is some video of the flaming pit of doom:

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