A blazing sinkhole in the North West of China has terrified locals.
The sinkhole have been attracting tourists as well as researchers and prompting questions about its origin.
The temperature on top of the burning crater has been estimated to be 792 degrees Celsius (1,457 degrees Fahrenheit). Because of intense heat scientists have been unable to get close enough to measure how deep it is.
RT reports: Located in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, near Urumqi, in northwest China, the sinkhole is 0.9 meters (3 feet) wide.
It is hot enough to light up branches and other objects placed next to it. Various tourist videos show people setting things on fire.
Locals have dubbed it a “gateway to hell.” Many have told the Chinese media that the ground in the area has been hot for some time now.
There is no volcanic activity in the region, which led scientists from the Xinjiang Meitian Geological Bureau to believe that the sinkhole was created out of coal seam spontaneously combusting.
The area was reportedly used for mining in the 1970s, China Central TV cited a supervisor from Xinjiang Meitian Fire Engineering Bureau, Chen Long, as saying, the Daily Mail reported.
“Primitive mining and extinguishing techniques caused coal to burn deep under the ground,” Chen said. “Operators didn’t seal the mines properly after business discontinued and this leads the underground fire to burn towards the surface of the earth.”
Similar phenomena on a larger scale were spotted in Turkmenistan and America’s Pennsylvania.
The former, referred to as the “the door to hell,” is a gas crater that has been burning in a Turkmen desert for more than 40 years. The one in Pennsylvania is a coal mine fire that has been burning since May 1962.