Derweze is a locality of Turkmenistan in the middle of the Karakum desert , 260 km north of Ashgabat. A village that was there was razed in 2002 by order of President Saparmurat Niyazov and the place is now virtually uninhabited.
The crater is a hole Derweze fifty meters in diameter near the village, and is burning continuously since 1971.
The basement Derweze is rich in natural gas. At a Soviet mining exploration in 1970 , a team of geologists, drilling the soil for a deposit , accidentally pierced an underground cavity that causes the collapse of the rig , leaving a gaping hole in the ground . To avoid the risk of explosion and air pollution, it was decided to set fire to the gas emanating from the well. Geologists believed that the reserves were depleted in a few weeks , but well burns without interruption since 1971. Locally, the place is known as ” the gateway to hell ”