The Sun (Malaysia)

Thousands of revellers stranded in US desert

One death reported, organisers urge festival goers to ‘conserve food, water and fuel’


Police in the US state of Nevada were investigat­ing a death at the Burning Man festival, where thousands of people were ordered to shelter in place after heavy rains turned the desert site into a mud pit and forced organisers to close the gates.

Pershing County Sheriff’s Office in northern Nevada said on Saturday it was investigat­ing “a death which occurred during this rain event”, according to a statement cited by US media.

There were no details of the circumstan­ces of the death or the person’s identity.

“As this death is still under investigat­ion, there is no further informatio­n available at this time,” news outlet NBC quoted the statement as saying.

Earlier on Saturday, the heavy rainfall forced the Bureau of Land Management and the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office to close the entrance to Burning Man for the remainder of the event.

“Do not travel to Black Rock City!” Burning Man organisers tweeted, referring to the desert area where the alternativ­e culture festival takes place.

“Access to the city is closed for the remainder of the event, and you will be turned away.”

Organisers urged festivalgo­ers already on site to “conserve food, water and fuel, and shelter in a warm, safe space”.

Due to downpours, the playa, the huge open-air esplanade where the event unfolds, was rendered impassable.

On their website, the organisers said only four-wheel drive vehicles with all-terrain tires were currently able to move.

“Anything less than that will get stuck. It will hamper Exodus if we have cars stuck on roads in our camping areas, or on the Gate Road out of the city”, they said on a “2023 Wet Playa Survival Guide” page.

If necessary, they said it was possible to walk 8km through the mud to the nearest road, where they would provide buses during daylight hours to transport people to Reno.

The organisers also said they were deploying mobile cellphone towers and opening the site’s wireless internet for public access to give attendees access to communicat­ions.

Launched in 1986 in San Francisco, Burning Man aims to be an undefinabl­e event, somewhere between a celebratio­n of countercul­ture and a spiritual retreat.

Initially organised on a San Francisco beach, Burning Man has become a structured festival, with a budget of US$45 million and 75,000 participan­ts at the last edition.

The festival culminates each year with the ceremonial burning of a 12m effigy.

It has been held since the 1990s in the Black Rock Desert, a protected area in northwest Nevada. – AFP

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