Villagers find mysterious 3ft-wide hole spewing fire

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Another great gist from China....
A mysterious sinkhole spewing fire and incredible heat has appeared in a Chinese hillside. Geologists and media have flocked to the desolate mountain on the outskirts of Urumqi, in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in north-western China, since it appeared a few weeks ago.

The heat blasting from the ‘ring of fire’ has been measured at 792C (1457F) from two metres away, reports People’s Daily Online, and is so intense that experts can’t get close enough to determine how deep the hole is.

Locals told Chinese media that they had noticed the ground in the area had been warm underfoot for some time.

The hill is not in a volcanic area, and experts from Xinjiang Meitian Geological Bureau think the hole is caused by the layer of spontaneously combusted coal underneath the ground, which leads the surface layer to collapse.

‘The phenomenon has existed in the area for a few decades,’ Huang Wei, an engineer from the bureau told China Central TV Station.

He added that smoke often comes from under the ground on this hill in the spring and autumn.

Chen Long, a supervisor from Xinjiang Meitian Fire Engineering Bureau, said there used to be more than a dozen of small coal mines in the area in the 1970s.

‘Primitive mining and extinguishing techniques caused coal to burn deep under the ground,’ said Mr Chen in the same interview.

‘Operators didn’t seal the mines properly after business discontinued and this leads the underground fire to burn towards the surface of the earth.’

The local authorities have started drawing plans to put out the underground fire.

From GuardianNews
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