‘Well of Hell,’ gaping desert hole, is shrouded in mystery

Far out in Yemen’s remote eastern desert landscape, a gaping hole in the ground believed to be “million and millions” years old fascinates and mystifies locals.

Those who live near the hole, named the Well of Barhout, believe anything that comes close to the “Hell Pit” will be sucked in without escape. The hole looms large in the public’s imagination. According to Yemeni legend, “extinct tongues fizz on cold nights” there, a reference to what might be lurking inside the hole.

Shrouded in mystery, the Well of Barhout is in the Yemen desert, near the border with Oman. The natural wonder, popularly known as the “Well of Hell,” is in the Al-Mahra province and is 100 feet wide and thought to reach 330 feet down, but there are those who claim it’s as much as 820 feet deep.

Well of Barhout gallery
Al Mahra: Surrounded in mystery and tales of demons, the Well of Barhout in Yemen’s east – known as the “Well of Hell” – is a little-understood natural wonder.Image Credit: AFP
Well of Barhout gallery
Closer to the border with Oman than to the capital Sanaa 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) away, the giant hole in the desert of Al-Mahra province is 30 metres wide and thought to be anywhere between 100 and 250 metres deep.Image Credit: AFP
Well of Barhout gallery
Local folklore says it was created as a prison for the demons – a reputation bolstered by the foul odours rising from its depths. Yemeni officials say they don’t know what lies below.Image Credit: AFP
Well of Barhout gallery
“It’s very deep – we’ve never reached the bottom of this well, as there’s little oxygen and no ventilation,” said Salah Babhair, director-general of Mahra’s geological survey and mineral resources authority.Image Credit: AFP
Well of Barhout gallery
“We have gone to visit the area and entered the well, reaching more than 50-60 metres down into it. We noticed strange things inside. We also smelled something strange… It’s a mysterious situation.”Image Credit: AFP
Well of Barhout gallery
Sunlight doesn’t extend far into the structure, and little can be seen from the edge except the birds that fly in and out of its depths. Videographers seeking close-ups of the inside of the well have said they are almost impossible to capture – local superstition has it that objects near the hole can be sucked towards it.Image Credit: AFP
Well of Barhout gallery
Babhair said that the well was “millions and millions” of years old. “These places require more study, research and investigation,” he said. Over the centuries, stories have circulated of malign, supernatural figures known as jinns or genies living in the well.Image Credit: AFP
Well of Barhout gallery
Many local residents remain uneasy about visiting the vast hole, or even talking about it, for fear of ill fortune from a chasm which, legend has it, threatens life on Earth itself. Image Credit: AFP

Nobody has ever been to the bottom.

A video crew from AFP recently flew a drone over the hole and captured stunning aerial footage of the mysterious pit. However, even with the drone flying directly over the hole and with the camera lens pointed straight down, it was impossible to see into its depths due to the extreme darkness.

By : Monica Danielle – AFP

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