The so-called "Gates Of Hell" in Turkmenistan could soon be extinguished, after the country's leader said it was causing ecological damage.

the hole, which is 20 metres ( 229ft ) wide, was said to be formed after a gas drill collapsed in 1971, according to local news site turkmenportal.

"we are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the well-being of our people," he said.

Berdymukhamedov instructed officials to "find a solution to extinguish the fire".

the spectacular if unwelcome fire that has burned ever since is so renowned that state tv showed president gurbanguly berdymukhamedov speeding around it in an off-road truck in 2019.

in 2018, the president officially renamed it the "shining of karakum.

Turkmenistan's strongman leader has ordered experts to find a way to finally extinguish a massive five-decade-old fire in a giant natural gas crater, labelled the "gateway to hell".

In 2010, Berdymukhamedov also ordered experts to find a way to put out the flames, which have been burning since a Soviet drilling operation went awry in 1971.

To prevent the spread of gas, geologists set a fire, expecting the gas to burn off in a few weeks.

The crater is one of Turkmenistan's most popular tourist attractions.

Mystery surrounds the Darvaza crater's creation in the Karakum Desert.

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