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Science & Technology

Man becomes first to enter 'Door to Hell'

By T.K. Randall
May 6, 2015 · Comment icon 9 comments



A close-up look inside the flaming depths of the pit. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 flydime
Explorer George Kourounis has become the first person to descend in to Turkmenistan's infamous fire pit.
Located in Derweze, Ahal Province, the burning pit received its nickname 'Door to Hell' due to its ominous appearance and because it has remained on fire for more than 40 years.

Originally thought to be an oil field site, the pit was opened up by Soviet engineers after a drilling rig they set up collapsed in to a large crater. Concerned about the release of toxic fumes they set the gas on fire believing that it would burn out within weeks but instead it remained alight for more than four decades.

Now a popular tourist destination, the pit has attracted large numbers of visitors to the region but to date nobody has proven themselves brave - or foolish - enough to try lowering themselves inside it.

That was, at least, until explorer George Kourounis took up the challenge.
Not to be discouraged by the flaming depths of the pit and spurred on by rumors that the fire was to be extinguished by the government, the 41-year-old, who is no stranger to extreme heats having previously braved volcanoes, donned a special flame-proof suit and descended in to the fire.

While he was there he retrieved samples for scientific study and discovered that there was even bacteria living inside the crater despite the high temperature and methane fumes.

"Since this was something nobody had ever done before there was a lot of uncertainty and questions," he said. "When I actually set foot at the bottom it was an overwhelming feeling."

"I was in a spot where no human had ever been. It was like stepping onto an alien planet."

Comments (9)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Mantis914 8 years ago
Meh, that's called a "threshold" and you carry your wife through it...
Comment icon #2 Posted by freetoroam 8 years ago
While he was there he retrieved samples for scientific study and discovered that there was even bacteria living inside the crater despite the high temperature and methane fumes. http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/news/281215/man-becomes-first-to-enter-door-to-hell Even more reason to believe that there could be life on other planets with extreme conditions. I was going to say why would he have gone down there when they know the origins of the fire, but for the reason above, very very interesting and hats off to him, although surely they got a heatproof drone which could do this now?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Glacknor 8 years ago
While he was there he retrieved samples for scientific study and discovered that there was even bacteria living inside the crater despite the high temperature and methane fumes. http://www.unexplain...er-door-to-hell Even more reason to believe that there could be life on other planets with extreme conditions. I was going to say why would he have gone down there when they know the origins of the fire, but for the reason above, very very interesting and hats off to him, although surely they got a heatproof drone which could do this now? The way it reads, it sounds like he did it because he's an... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by freetoroam 8 years ago
The way it reads, it sounds like he did it because he's an adventurer who prefers the hot places. The science stuff was just a "hey, since I'm here, lets grab this thing..." event. I read it the scientists wanted the samples before the government extinguished it and he was the man for the job...but you could be right..either way, the man is bordering on very brave or very foolish. But i suppose if paid enough and with his special suit, i might have done it.
Comment icon #5 Posted by aquatus1 8 years ago
either way, the man is bordering on very brave or very foolish. Like most adventurers, it's a little from column A and a little from column B.
Comment icon #6 Posted by ancient astronaut 8 years ago
I thought people already lived in Hoboken??
Comment icon #7 Posted by Scholar4Truth 8 years ago
I thought this may of been another well to hell hoax that was peddled on art Bell's show.
Comment icon #8 Posted by BeastieRunner 8 years ago
I thought this may of been another well to hell hoax that was peddled on art Bell's show. Me too. I wasn't expecting a scientific article. Interesting nonetheless.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Ralaman 8 years ago
The IRS may be evil but I wouldn't call it a "Door to Hell"....


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