Death at Burning Man investigated in US, thousands stranded by flooding

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A Burning Man participant trudges through muck in Black Rock City, in the Nevada desert, after a rainstorm turned the site into mud, September 2, 2023 [Trevor Hughes/USA Today Network via Reuters]

Thousands of festivalgoers remain stranded as organisers close vehicular traffic to the festival site following storm flooding in Nevada’s desert.

Authorities in Nevada are investigating a death at the site of the Burning Man festival, where thousands of attendees remained stranded after flooding from storms swept through the Nevada desert in the United States.

Organisers closed vehicular access to the counter-culture festival in the western US state on Saturday night.

Attendees trudged through mud, many barefoot or wearing plastic bags on their feet.

The revellers were urged to shelter in place and conserve food, water and other supplies.

The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said the death happened during the event in Black Rock City, but offered few details, declining to reveal the identity of the deceased person or the suspected cause of death, local TV channel KNSD reported.

On the Burning Man website, the event’s organisers encouraged participants to remain calm and suggested that the festival is built to endure conditions like the flooding. They said that mobile phone trailers were being dropped in several locations on Saturday night, and that they would be briefly making the internet available overnight.

Shuttle buses were also being organised to take attendees to Reno – a city southwest of the festival site – from Gerlach, a town about 8km (5 miles) from Black Rock City.

“Burning Man is a community of people who are prepared to support one another. We have come here knowing this is a place where we bring everything we need to survive,” the organisers said in a statement.

“It is because of this that we are all well-prepared for a weather event like this.”

Celebrity DJ Diplo posted a video to Instagram on Saturday evening showing him and comedian Chris Rock riding in the back of a fan’s pick-up truck. He said they had walked 9.7km (6 miles) through the mud before hitching a ride.

“I legit walked the side of the road for hours with my thumb out,” wrote Diplo, whose real name is Thomas Wesley Pentz.

Vehicle gates will not open for the remainder of the event, which began on August 27 and was scheduled to end on Monday, according to the US Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the Black Rock Desert where the festival is being held.

Officials said late Saturday that the entrance to the event remained closed, and it wasn’t immediately known when celebrants could leave the grounds. But if weather conditions improve, they were hopeful vehicles could depart by late Monday.

The announcements came just before the culminating moment for the annual event – when a large wooden effigy was to be burned Saturday night.

SOURCE: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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