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Death under investigation at Burning Man as flooding strands thousands

A sheriff said the death happened during the event but offered few details, including the identity of the deceased person or the suspected cause.
Death under investigation at Burning Man as flooding strands thousands
Posted at 8:13 AM, Sep 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-04 15:11:07-04

Thousands of festival-goers remain stuck in a muddy, mucky, and flooded Nevada desert after heavy downpours crashed this year's Burning Man festival.

Nevada officials and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are now working to create exit paths for those trapped.

On Saturday, people on the grounds of the festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert were told to take shelter and to conserve food, fuel, and water.

On Sunday, organizers warned that safe exits in vehicles may not be possible until late Monday, and after a report of a single fatality, organizers decided to prohibit vehicle access. No additional information regarding the death was disclosed by officials, but the incident is still under investigation.

It "created a mucky, muddy environment where you could barely walk. Vehicles were made impassable. Stay put," said Andrew Hyde.

Hyde is one of the thousands of attendees stuck at the event.He says relentless rain from Friday into Saturday brought everything on the festival grounds to a halt.

"When it was really wet, you couldn't do anything. [It took] miles to get out of it," said Hyde.

Some festivalgoers hiked for miles on foot in the thick mud to reach the main roads.

SEE MORE: 73,000 at Burning Man told to shelter, conserve food amid muddy mayhem

Those who traveled to the annual event in RVs were unable to drive through the muck.

"We don't know what's gonna happen tonight, though, and that's the big concern because we might have just as much rain tonight. And if you couple that with last night's [rain,] then we have a pretty big story and a pretty hard time getting out of the city collectively because those 70,000 people have to go out on the same road," said Hyde.

The festival, which is held every year in Black Rock City—about 2 and a half hours north of Reno—is a self-described "community and global cultural movement."

Celebrities have helped popularize the week-long event that is focused on self-expression through the arts.

Among the celebrities in attendance this year was comedian Chris Rock.

He and DJ Diplo walked for miles to leave the area, finally hitching a ride in the back of a pickup truck.

More than three months worth of rain fell in an almost 24-hour span.

The rain is not an inconvenience for many of the free spirits, who say the extreme weather has taken the event back to its origins.

"It's a survival event, like you come out here to be in a harsh climate, and you prepare for that. So, in many ways, everybody here just kind of made friends with their neighbors, and it's a community event. It's an event about art, and you just kind of went back to the roots," said Hyde.

A White House official said Sunday that President Biden has received a briefing regarding the current situation at the festival and that the administration is actively monitoring the situation and maintaining communication with state and local authorities.

Those who remain on event grounds are strongly encouraged to heed the guidance provided by state and local officials as well as event organizers.

@scrippsnews As of Monday morning, roads were still too wet and muddy for vehicles to safely exit the Burning Man festival in Nevada. Over the weekend, rain caused the festival to be shut down, preventing people from coming or going. Officials told the more than 70,000 festival goers to shelter in place. #BurningMan #weather ♬ original sound - Scripps News


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