Thousands of people were struggling to leave a remote desert in western US state of Nevada, after they had been stuck in the mud at the annual Burning Man Festival due to days of torrential rain. Each year, the annual arts and music festival attracts around 70,000 attendees to the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance. This year’s event, which began on August 27 and was scheduled to run through Monday, has drawn national attention as its exit gates were forced to be closed after a rare storm on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said that most Burning Man Festival operations had been halted or significantly delayed “due to unusual weather conditions on the playa”. There had been mild to heavy rain for several hours, causing conditions that made it virtually impossible for motorised vehicles to traverse the playa, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office also said that it was investigating a death which occurred during the rain event but there was no further information available at this time.
The organisers of the event said on Sunday that some vehicles with 4WD and all-terrain tyres were able to navigate the mud and were successfully leaving. “But we are seeing most other types of vehicles that try to depart getting stuck in the wet mud which hampers everyone’s exodus,” they said, urging attendees “do not drive at this time”. The organisers asked attendees to “take shelter in a warm, safe place” and “conserve your food, water, and fuel” in a wet playa survival guide. “Gate road remains a bit too muddy and there is still too much standing water along it for large numbers of vehicles to safely navigate out of the event this morning, but it is drying up,” said the organisers in a Facebook post on Monday morning, adding that they anticipate that exodus will be able to officially begin later Monday.