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.

Berdymukhamedov said the human-made crater "negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby".

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

In a television address, Mr Berdymukhamedov instructed officials to "find a solution to extinguish the fire".

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

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.

in 2018, the president officially named it shining of karakum.

the so-called "gates of hell." in turkmenistan could soon be extinguished, after the country's leader said it was causing ecological damage.

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.

Turkmenistan is attempting to extinguish its "Gateway to Hell", a fire in a desert crater which has been burning for decades.

The crater, which is 70m wide and 20m deep, is one of Turkmenistan's top tourist destinations and is situated in the vast Karakum desert.

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