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Burning Man update, as festival goers could be stranded for days

Thousands of festival-goers stranded at Burning Man after heavy downpours turned the desert landscape into a slush said they may not be able to leave for days as more rain fell Sunday afternoon.

More than 70,000 people gathered at the annual festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada and are now trapped in a large swamp, with roads in and out of the site closed. More than half an inch of rain fell overnight on Friday, according to organizers quoted by Sky News, and there was more rain on Saturday and Sunday.

Festival goers have been told to stay in their camps and conserve food and water. In their latest update on Sunday evening, organizers said they aimed to open “for the exodus” on Monday morning, with a final decision on access expected to be announced by 9am local

A double rainbow over a flooded desert plain on September 1, 2023. Tens of thousands of festival-goers were stranded on September 3 after rain turned the annual Burning Man event into a quagmire, with police investigating a death.
JULIE JAMMOT/AFP via Getty Images

The site was closed Saturday by the Nevada Bureau of Land Management due to the downpours. The death of one person is being investigated by authorities, although police have not provided further details other than to say it occurred “during this rain event”.

“Please stay off Gate Road – rain and mud make it impassable at this time. We have created alternative routes which if used on Monday will give you the best area to drive,” wrote the organizers

“Most of the rain has come with partly cloudy skies, and the chance of showers and thunderstorms during the remaining daylight hours,” they added. “A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms lingers through the evening of Sunday, September 3. Strong winds are still possible today and this evening. Monday will bring clear skies and a good chance to dry out.”

However, the festival-goers seem more pessimistic than the organizers. One wrote about X, formerly known as Twitterlate Sunday night, people were allowed to leave but were strongly advised not to attempt to do so.

“The gates aren’t officially open yet, but if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you can get out, but you run [the] risk of getting stuck. This is what they are advising [us] to stay for now,” they wrote on the social media platform.

“There are currently hundreds of vehicles stuck due to mud/clay in the exodus line. If you are willing to walk 5-10 miles, you can exit on foot. Also not advised. If you have a medical emergency, you will be escorted by doctors and an emergency vehicle.”

Organizers said that while some vehicles had managed to get out, others were stuck in the mud as of Sunday morning.

The festival-goer added that “there is no date when the gates will open, but once they are, it will be a process of about 20 hours to get people out of the city. Our plan as a camp is to leave after the first as not to get stuck in the line.looks like a thursday departure yes [the] time stands still.”

Newsweek reached out to Burning Man organizers by email Monday.


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