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Watch: Festival goers struggle through Burning Man mud bath

By David Willis & Kathryn Armstrong
BBC News, Burning Man in Nevada & London

An investigation has been launched into the death of a person during torrential rain at the Burning Man festival in the US state of Nevada.

No further details have been given about the circumstances of their death.

Thousands of people remain stranded at the event after the bad weather turned the ground to deep, slippery mud. Roads in and out are closed as vehicles can barely drive on it.

Burning Man is held in the Black Rock Desert, which is usually dry and dusty.

“The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating a death which occurred during this rain event,” the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office said on Saturday, adding that the person’s family had been notified.

The heavy rain has made it difficult for people to leave by vehicle and the sheriff’s office said some attempts to do this had made the ground even worse.

Further rain is expected and the authorities have said that it could be several days before the ground dries up enough for people to leave.

For this reason, people have been told to conserve their food and water.

The festival’s toilets are also out of use, revellers say, because the service vehicles cannot drive on the mud to empty them.

Some revellers are using plastic bags to protect their shoes from the squelchy mud

The annual festival is one of America’s most well-known arts and culture events.

While it does feature music, its organisers describe it as a “cultural movement” in which participants create a temporary city and are expected to be largely self-sufficient while they are there.

The festival usually features giant interactive art installations and a huge wooden man that is burnt at the end of the event.

But one man at the festival told the BBC most events have been called off.

Nonetheless, many people were trying to make the best of it, dancing in the mud to techno music.

One reveller, Shervin Natan, told the BBC that despite the muddy conditions, “the party’s still going, it’s business as usual.”

“There are worse conditions than this, everyone is helping each other out, that’s what Burning Man is all about,” he added.

Burning Man participants have been trying to make the best of the bad weather conditions

Burning Man was founded in June 1986 and was first held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert in 1990.

Tickets can be very hard to get and festival-goers sometimes interview to get into popular camps and have to prove their commitment to its ideals.

Some groups spend the entire year planning their camp, artwork and theme.

But this year there had been worries about the weather and tickets were changing hands on the secondary market at below market rate.

Additional reporting by James Clayton in San Francisco and Azadeh Moshiri.

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