Police in Nevada are investigating the death of an individual during a storm at the Burning Man festival. Access to the festival site remains barred due to swamp-like conditions, and attendees have been advised to conserve food and water.
In a statement on Saturday evening, the Pershing County Sheriff's Office said that it is "currently investigating a death which occurred during this rain event.” No details on the person’s identity or suspected cause of death were provided.
The festival began last Sunday and was due to end on Monday after the burning of a giant wooden effigy from which its name is derived. However, a rainstorm on Saturday turned the normally parched Black Rock Desert into a mudbath, forcing organizers to forbid all entry and exit from the site.
Festivalgoers were instructed to conserve food and water in case the terrain does not dry up by Monday, and reports from the festival on Sunday indicate that toilets have become unusable.
Pershing County Sheriff's Sergeant Nathan Carmichael told local media that around 70,000 people are stuck at the site. Those leaving Burning Man on foot can hike five miles (8 kilometers) to the closest highway and catch shuttle buses to the city of Reno, some 100 miles (160km) away.
Billed as a celebration of community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance, Burning Man was founded in 1986 with the torching of an 8-foot wooden man on San Francisco’s Baker Beach. It has been held in the Black Rock Desert since 1990, and draws hippies, celebrities, influencers, and tech billionaires. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos are among the many business elites who attended the festival in recent years.