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Man dies as Burning Man festival descends into chaos after flash flooding - leaving thousands stranded
3 September 2023, 10:30
An investigation has been launched into the death of a man at Burning Man in Nevada after the festival was hit by torrential rain and flash flooding.
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Thousands of festival attendees were forced to trudge through mud - many barefoot or wearing plastic bags on their feet - as flooding from storms swept through the Nevada desert.
Organisers closed vehicle access to the festival on Saturday, with attendees told to conserve their food and water as poor weather continues.
Gates to the festival will remain closed for the remainder of the event, which was scheduled to end on Monday.
Burning Man attendees were told to shelter in place. No bikes or cars in or out, since the playa (lakebed) is a muddy mess right now. Some folks are walking 5 miles out in order to avoid being trapped inside, with 70K+ other people and very limited resources pic.twitter.com/W0Q0Pt60yT— 🌈 Tess T. Eccles-Brown, PhD (@TTEcclesBrown) September 3, 2023
It is understood more than an inch of rain fell at the festival site on Friday, which is located about 110 miles north of Reno.
Another quarter of an inch of rain is expected to hit the festival grounds on Sunday.
The Reno Gazette Journal reported that organisers started rationing ice sales and that all vehicle traffic at the sprawling festival grounds had been stopped, leaving portable toilets unable to be serviced.
Officials have not yet said when the entrance is expected to be opened again, and it was not immediately known when celebrants could leave the grounds.
The announcements came just before the culminating moment for the annual event - when a large wooden effigy was to be burned Saturday night.
Many people played beer pong, danced and splashed in standing water, the Gazette Journal said.
Mike Jed, a festival-goer, and fellow campers made a bucket toilet so people did not have to trudge as often through the mud to reach the portable toilets.
"If it really turns into a disaster, well, no-one is going to have sympathy for us," Mr Jed said. "I mean, it's Burning Man."