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The Door to Hell: Take a look inside a giant hole in the desert which has been on fire for more than 40 YEARS

By Rob Preece

PUBLISHED: 02:08 GMT, 27 July 2012 | UPDATED: 08:08 GMT, 27 July 2012

At first glance, it could be a dramatic scene from a science-fiction movie.

But this giant hole of fire in the heart of the Karakum Desert is not the aftermath of an attack on Earth, launched from outer space.

It is a crater made by geologists more than 40 years ago, and the flames within have been burning ever since.

Welcome to Derweze in Turkmenistan - or, as the locals have called it, 'The Door to Hell'.

Scroll down for video

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On the edge: Two people stand and look into the burning hole, which has become known as 'The Door to Hell'

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Illuminating: The hole in Derweze, Turkmenistan, is 70 metres wide and the flames within light up the sky

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Light show: A spectacular view of the flames burning inside the crater in the heart of the Karakum Desert

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Dramatic: The raging fire inside the crater has been burning for more than 40 years

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Hot: A closer view of the fire inside the hole, which locals have named 'The Door to Hell'

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Fiery: The blaze began when geologists decided to burn off natural gas they discovered while drilling at the site

Soviet geologists were drilling at the site in 1971 and tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas.

But the ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a hole with a diameter of 70 metres.

Fearing that the hole would lead to the release of poisonous gases, the team decided to burn it off.

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The hole is located in Derweze, in the middle of the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan

It was hoped that the fire would use all the fuel within days, but the gas is still burning today.

The flames generate a golden glow which can be seen for miles around Derweze, a village with a population of about 350.

The site is about 260 kilometres north of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.

In April 2010 the country's president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed but this is yet to happen.

The Karakum Desert, which covers much of Turkmenistan, lies east of the Caspian Sea.

The Aral Sea is located to the north and the Amu Darya river and the Kyzyl Kum Desert lie to the north-east.

The area has significant oil and natural gas deposits.

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Landmark: The bright glow created by the fire can be seen for miles around the village

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Shining: The hole looks like a golden oasis in the middle of the desert in Turkmenistan

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Long way down: The hole was formed in 1971 when ground beneath a drilling rig collapsed

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Spectacle: The hole attracts visitors, more than 40 years after Soviet geologists drilled at the site

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Never-ending: Geologists hoped the fire would use all the gas in the hole within days, but it is still burning

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aDJ8XUghYXw

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Working on a drilling rig in Alberta, this is one of my biggest fears, and is always in the back of my head whenever I get to the rig to start my shift. I know, of all the stuff that could go wrong, this is the one that sticks with me.

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