Welcome to Hell on Earth. More than 40 years ago, in the desert of north Turkmenistan, workers drilling for gas got quite a fright when a humongous hole suddenly opened up. The resulting crater of fire still burns today, with locals naming the hot spot the “Door to Hell”.
The Derweze crater is 20m (66ft) deep in the centre and 70m (230ft) wide and the light produced by the burning gas is visible from a long distance.
Sinkholes occur where supporting structures break down, most commonly in limestone areas. Water trickles underground, dissolving rock and creating caverns. When a cavern roof weakens, the ground opens, forming a sinkhole.
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