The Anzob Tunnel was supposed to make life easier for people wanting to travel between Tajikistan’s major cities.
Before the tunnel was built, drivers had to cross the border into Uzbekistan via a dirt road in order to travel between the Tajik capital of Duschanbe, and it’s second biggest city of Khujand. They also faced the threat of year-round avalanches blocking the roads, leaving people with the only option of flying — simply too expensive for most.
So a 5km long, $4 billion tunnel, built by Iran, was meant to be a step up.
The tunnel was officially opened in 2006 but remained unfinished until March this year. Within a matter of three months, it had to be closed for repair work and reopened in September.
It quickly became known as the “tunnel of death” by locals and those who braved the nightmarish journey.
It’s a dark, dangerous place, with hardly any lights inside and it’s suffocating as there’s no ventilation bar one fan. Locals have shared stories of a number of people dying inside it due to traffic jams that leave people trapped, where they succumbed to carbon monoxide.
There’s also the fact it’s almost like an obstacle course, with huge, axle-snapping potholes threatening to swallow up the car, along with flooding that almost turns them into tunnel ponds.
Throw in the hazard of falling rocks and you’ll want to be alert if you take on the journey.
It’s also quite narrow — with a two-lane system, often ignored as drivers dodge obstacles.
Explorer Silvan Graf described his experience with the road in a video uploaded to YouTube:
“Even in good weather conditions the tunnel is flooded, turning the giant pot holes in the unfinished road into invisible death traps.
“Unmarked drainage channels waiting to swamp your bike. The tunnel lacks proper lighting and ventilation, breathing is hard and painful due to the thick mixture of exhaust gases.”
Check out the videos below to get a feel for the place.
So why is it such a treacherous place?
The Iranian Energy Ministry Alireza Dayemi has previously spoken out about the challenges of the project, including the high altitude, water pouring from the tunnel’s walls and the chill factor.
“These factors have made this project distinctively different from the similar projects and made the process of this tunnels construction incomparable with the other similar ones,” Mr Dayemi told local news site FARS.