|Vittorio Hernandez |||Apr 10, 2015 04:04 AM EDT|
(Photo : Naj.com) Residents of Urumqi called this hole the gateway to hell.
An 80 centimeter wide hole, which is the opening to a fiery pit, is terrifying residents of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang in northwestern China. Locals have called it the entrance to hell because of its bright orange glow and intense heat.
Construction workers and villagers spotted the strange hole one week ago. The hole was eventually sealed off while mining experts and geologists were asked to investigate the hot pit, reports News.com.au.
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Before the discovery of the pit, residents noticed the ground underfoot was warm. It's certainly not lava because the hill is not a volcanic area, reports The Daily Mail.
Hu Tan, a geologist who leads the investigation, described the air emanating from the opening as so hot that if a branch is held near it, the branch burns. He said the hole is likely caused by the spontaneous combustion of coal.
Xinjiang Meitian Fire Engineering Bureau supervisor Chen Long said primitive mining and extinguishing techniques are the reason the coal burning under the ground.
"Operators didn't seal the mines properly after business discontinued and this leads the underground fire to burn towards the surface of the earth", he said.
Cao Hanwen, another mining expert, explained that the area was a coal mine in the 1970s. Similar holes had been documented over the past years, Cao added.
The recorded temperature of the hole is around 792 Celsius. It is a "pretty hot" pit and locals, being superstitious, associate such a hot place with the people's concept of hell, which many writings describe as an extremely hot place because of the fire that burns forever.
After getting clarification from the experts, local authorities ordered the hole be filled and sealed because of the potential harm from the pit's fumes, especially to workers in the area that could be forced to inhale it over a long period.
Cao warned there could be other similar sinkholes that could burst open in the future. He asked residents to report any burning sinkholes to them so the experts could either close the hole or seal the area.
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