Dubai (AFP)

It is nicknamed the "well of hell": a team of Omani speleologists tries to unravel the mysteries of the legendary well of Barhout in Yemen, a natural wonder and a source of fear among the population who see it as a prison for demons.

In the desert of the eastern province of Al-Mahra, a 30-meter round dark hole serves as an entrance to a cave of approximately 112 meters.

Inside, the team from the neighboring Sultanate of Oman found snakes, dead animals and gray and green cave pearls formed by drops of water.

But no sign of supernatural nor of particular smell beyond that of dead birds, according to the head of this team of eight speleologists who says to have been motivated by the "passion".

"We felt that this project would reveal a new wonder and part of Yemen's history," said the young man, who also owns a mining and oil consulting company.

"We have collected samples of water, rocks, soil and a few dead animals, but we still have to have them analyzed," he said, adding that a report will be published soon.

Yemeni officials had assured AFP in June that they did not know what was in the grave they believe to be "millions" of years old.

According to them, the authorities of this very poor and warring country have never reached the bottom of the "well".

"We went to visit the area and entered the well. We reached more than 50-60 meters deep and noticed strange things inside," said Salah Babhair, director general of the local authority in charge. geological study and mineral resources.

"It's very mysterious," insisted the manager.

Over the centuries, rumors and legends have been passed down from generation to generation about evil spirits known as "jinn" living in this "pit of hell".

Most locals avoid passing by or even talking about the vast hole for fear of bad luck.

And Yemenis are not without misfortune.

The country has been plunged into a civil war since 2014 between the government and the Houthi rebels, which has left tens of thousands dead and millions displaced, according to international organizations.

The UN regularly recalls that Yemen is experiencing the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with a population of 30 million on the brink of famine and 80% dependent on international aid.

© 2021 AFP