“The driving ban has been lifted.” Tens of thousands of visitors to the “Burning Man” festival in Nevada had been waiting for this announcement from the organizers for days. Previously, heavy rain had turned the festival site on the surface of a dry lake into a veritable swamp of thick mud and mud. All events had to be canceled after the floodwaters destroyed facilities for dance parties, art installations and other program items.
For fear of major chaos, police closed access to the site, which is more than ten kilometers from the nearest residential buildings, on Friday as a precautionary measure. According to security authorities, there were just over 70,000 people at Burning Man at the time of the closure.
For days, only emergency vehicles were allowed to enter or leave the area. Organizers provided four-wheel drive vehicles for medical emergencies. However, any rescue came too late for one festival visitor. He is said to have died during the torrential rains. The exact cause of death is still unclear. The investigation was still ongoing, it said.
The organizers’ appeal goes unheeded
On Monday morning (local time) the redeeming news came for the visitors. The organizers announced that the access roads would be reopened, but asked that if possible they wait until Tuesday to prevent traffic jams. Nevertheless, thousands of visitors immediately took advantage of the opportunity to begin their longed-for journey home.
The Burning Man Festival is a scene happening with music and art events that attracts around 75,000 people every year – including artists, techno fans, fireworks fans and curious people from all over the world. The trademark and namesake of the event is the burning of a twelve meter tall wooden statue. The festival sees itself as an indefinable event between a celebration of counterculture and a spiritual retreat.
djo/AR (afp, dpa)