Washed-Out Burning Man Turns Fatal

Police say death was not weather-related as exodus finally begins
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2023 12:54 AM CDT
Updated Sep 5, 2023 12:00 AM CDT
Death at Flooded Burning Man Is Under Investigation
In this satellite photo provided by Maxar Technologies, an overview of Burning Man festival in Black Rock, Nev on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023.   (?2023 Maxar Technologies via AP)
UPDATE Sep 5, 2023 12:00 AM CDT

Event organizers started to allow revelers to leave Burning Man around 2pm local time Monday, though they urged people to hold off on leaving if they could to avoid traffic. Shortly after the exodus began, the wait time was estimated to be five hours long, the AP reports. Organizers also asked attendees not to walk out, as Chris Rock and Diplo famously did over the weekend, though they did not explain why. The ceremonial fires that were originally set to take place Saturday night before rain turned the festival into a waterlogged mess were planned for 9pm local time Monday (the burning of "the Man" effigy that gives the festival its name) and 8pm local time Tuesday (the burning of a wooden temple structure). As for the death of a man in his 40s at the festival, organizers revealed it was not related to the weather. It remains under investigation.

Sep 4, 2023 12:54 AM CDT

As many as 70,000 people remained stranded at a waterlogged Burning Man as of Sunday, and authorities are investigating the death of one person at the iconic counterculture festival in the Nevada desert. All the Pershing County Sheriff's Office has said on the matter is that it is investigating "a death which occurred during this rain event" and that the family of the person, whose identity has not yet been released, has been notified, CNN reports. The person was found on the playa, the name for the sunken dry lake bed in the desert where the festival takes place, and lifesaving measures were not successful.

Burning Man began Aug. 27 and ends Monday, but as of Saturday, officials weren't sure when roads would be dry enough for vehicles to drive out of the site safely, CBS News reports. Because of the makeup of the playa, it can easily become flooded, and the festival site quickly turned into a muddy mess after an unusual summer rainstorm in the area. Celebs Chris Rock and Diplo were among the attendees who found themselves unable to get out, but on social media they documented their six-mile hike out of the festival site to a spot where a man with a pickup truck offered them a ride, Fox News reports. Officials hoped conditions would dry up enough by Monday that people would be able to leave. (Read more Burning Man stories.)

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