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At least 1 dead at Burning Man as thousands remain stranded from flooding

A satellite view of the 2023 Burning Man festival
A satellite view of the 2023 Burning Man festival Maxar Technologies/AP Photo

At least one person died at Burning Man in Nevada, officials said Saturday, as thousands of attendees remain stranded at the remote desert festival following flooding from rainstorms.

The Pershing County Sheriff's Office announced the man's death, saying in a statement it had happened "during this rain event" but offering few additional details. The annual festival, which takes place in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, was besieged by "mudbath-like conditions," NPR reported, after the area received nearly an inch of rainfall that led to heavy flooding. While the festival organizers initially allowed people to enter and leave the grounds in vehicles, this guidance was changed by Sunday, as Burning Man officials wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that access "is closed for the remainder of the event, and you will be turned around."

As a result, an estimated 70,000 people remained stranded at the festival as of Sunday, KNSD-TV San Diego reported. It is unclear when the muddy conditions will abate enough to allow festivalgoers to drive out of the grounds. With both ingress and egress halted, those at Burning Man were encouraged to "conserve food, water and fuel, and shelter in a warm, safe space," Black Rock officials said in a statement.

Burning Man, described as "a global ecosystem of artists, makers and community organizers who co-create art, events, and local initiatives around the world," typically draws thousands of people who live alternative lifestyles. As a result, most festivalgoers "come here knowing this is a place where we bring everything we need to survive," Black Rock officials added, adding that they were "well-prepared for a weather event like this."

Most festivalgoers, though, appeared to remain in good spirits despite the situation. Many were seen "playing beer pong in the muddy streets or splashing in the standing water," the Reno Gazette Journal reported.

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