A vivid display of Turkmenistan’s huge gas reserves is the Darvaza gas crater. In the 1970s, Soviet engineers accidentally collapsed this cavern about 260 km north of Ashgabat, while exploring for gas in the Karakum Desert. The escaping methane was lit, intending to quickly burn it off and avoid poisoning nearby villages, but it has continued burning ever since. Photo by Amos Chapple.
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