Tens of thousands of visitors to the “Burning Man” desert festival are stuck at the site in the US state of Nevada after heavy rains over the weekend. All access to the site is closed, the Washoe County Sheriff said. Organizers asked visitors on Saturday (local time) to conserve food and water. “If you have too much, share with your neighbors.”

One person died, according to the CNN broadcaster, referring to the sheriff’s office. The death occurred “during the rain”. Details were not given. “The family has been notified and the death is being investigated.”

The annual festival is a scene happening with music and art events. It traditionally attracts artists, techno fans, pyrotechnicians and the curious from all over the world. In the desert, the participants build a temporary city called Black Rock City out of tents and mobile homes. A core ritual at the end of the cult event is the burning of the “Burning Man”, an oversized wooden statue. “Currently all burns have been postponed,” said the organizers on Saturday evening (local time).

DJ Diplo and Chris Rock in the mud

Some prominent guests of the festival got inventive in an emergency: successful DJ Diplo and actor Chris Rock left the site together on foot along an emergency path several kilometers long in the mud until they were picked up outside by a pickup truck. A fan offered him and Rock the ride, wrote Diplo to a video on Platform X that shows the two on the vehicle.

According to media reports, other festival-goers also walked for miles through the thick mud to reach main roads outside the site and get home from there. Others stayed in their tents, hoping for better conditions. Footage on social media showed festival-goers struggling on the muddy paths.

It was initially unclear whether the large number of visitors would be able to return home as planned on Monday. “The gate will be reopened as soon as possible once it is safe to do so,” the organizers’ website reads. “Late on Monday is possible – should the weather conditions be in our favor,” it said. “It can be earlier, it can be later.”

A temporary airport was also initially closed. Cars threatened to get stuck on the muddy ground. Only emergency vehicles were therefore allowed to enter or leave the site, the website said. The organizers provided four-wheel drive vehicles for medical emergencies.

“We came here knowing that this is a place where we bring everything we need to survive,” the organizers said. “That’s why we are all well prepared for a weather event like this.”

The sun could come back on Monday

This year’s torrential rains fell on arid desert terrain, turning the ground into a mud bath. According to CNN, between Friday and Saturday morning the usual amount of rain fell for two to three months. More showers are expected for Sunday. The sun could return on Monday, according to forecasts. Last year, the temperatures at the festival rose to around 40 degrees Celsius.

According to the organizers, up to 75,000 people stayed in the desert city in 2022. Precise information about the number of festival visitors stranded this year was not initially available. The event was supposed to end this year after nine days on this Sunday.

In 1986, the US artist Larry Harvey (1948-2018) was one of the co-founders of the initially small happening on a beach in San Francisco. After increasing popularity, the event was moved to the Nevada desert in 1990.