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Authorities investigate Burning Man death as thousands remain trapped

Thousands of Burning Man festival attendees in the Nevada desert faced the prospect of more rain on Sunday after a series of heavy downpours tested the resolve of free-spirited attendees, with most stranded on the site and forced to keep their food. and water.

On Sunday, police were investigating the death of one person at the event, although the cause was unclear. The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that the victim’s family has been notified, but no further information is available.

Burning Man, a week-long festival that has been around since the 1980s, is a self-proclaimed “community-based, global cultural movement” based on countercultural principles, such as radical self-expression.

The festival takes place in Black Rock City, a temporary community that springs up each year in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in northwestern Nevada, a vast space known at the event as the “playa”. The event is known to attract thousands of people and it has been popularized over the years by a steady stream of celebrities and moguls. It features art installations and culminates in the burning of a giant sculpture of a man, giving it its name.

The makeshift town hosts more than 70,000 people each year and is a three-hour drive from the nearest airport, which is over 100 miles away, in Reno. This year’s event kicked off on August 27 and was scheduled to end on Monday.

Heavy rain began Friday evening, with the festival site receiving more than half an inch of rain overnight, organizers said. A flood watch and flood advisory were in effect Sunday morning for parts of north-central and northwestern Nevada.

In other parts of Nevada, such as Las Vegas, fast-moving thunderstorms and flash flooding swept through the region over the weekend, with severe flooding reported on the Las Vegas Strip, prompting the rescue of at least a driver of a car.

On Saturday, Burning Man festival organizers asked attendees to shelter in place as more rainfall hit the area. On Sunday, access to the site remained closed to vehicles, and no driving was allowed on the festival grounds, with the exception of emergency services. Officials advised participants to save food and water and take shelter in a warm space.

In a statement Saturday, the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said some vehicles may have left the site, although these vehicles “caused damage to the surface of the beach, and it is not recommended for the moment “.

Some festival attendees walked for miles through mud to reach main roads and hitchhike away from the festival site.

On social networksBurning Man participants posted videos and photos of themselves trudging through thick desert mud.

On Saturday night, some festival-goers went barefoot or wore Ziploc bags on their feet, one attendee, Angie Peacock, 44, said in a phone interview. Even though the weather temporarily interrupted some parties, Ms Peacock said, the spirit of the festival was still present.

Several large camps have opened their kitchens and meal tents to outsiders. One served a hearty breakfast of eggs, hash browns and salad to its 80 members and a dozen stragglers huddled on benches.

There was nevertheless some anxiety among the population, Ms Peacock said. His camp, named Reverbia, rations food by preparing soups and stews. On Saturday, she ate beef chili with tortilla chips and drank coffee.

But the situation wasn’t extremely dire, she said: “We’re not going to let anyone starve, you know? It’s not “Hunger Games”.

On Saturday night, neon lights were still visible in the makeshift town and raves continued as usual.

“It’s lit,” Ms Peacock said as she watched. “It’s beautiful.”

Officials have yet to say when access to and from the event will reopen, and it’s not immediately clear when attendees will be able to leave. Festival organizers said it was possible that on Monday evening it would be possible to go by vehicle and motorhome, but only if conditions allow.

Organizers also said they would have buses in Gerlach, a small town near the festival, to take people to Reno.

“Burning Man is a community of people ready to support each other,” festival organizers said. “We came here knowing that this is a place where we bring everything we need to survive. It is thanks to this that we are all well prepared for a weather event like this.

Amanda Holpuch and Finn-Olaf Jones contributed reporting.


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