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The Seventh Circle of Hell

January 11, 2009
clipped from

burning hole
All images John Bradley via English Russia

Few people venture into the heart of the Kara-kum desert, but those who do are drawn by an eerie bright light that illuminates the night sky for miles around. From afar a glowing red light seems to float on the horizon, enticing onlookers ever closer to peer into what seems like Dante’s Inferno. Only when they arrive at the edge of the pit do they realize the bright lights are the dancing flames of a deep burning crater, known to locals as ‘The Doorway to Hell’.

standing at hole


When drilling started, the rig suddenly disappeared into the ground. It had drilled into an underground cavern, the roof of which had collapsed, forming a 60 meter-wide, 20 meters deep. It was also rich in natural gas, which was now largely unusable and escaping into the atmosphere.

Some bright spark then thought, to contain the noxious gas, that it would be a good idea to burn it off, and so ignited the crater. Since then, the gas riddled pit has been burning indefinitely


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