7 people dead of suspected drug overdoses at Vietnamese EDM festival

WATCH: Concern over the recent spike in overdose deaths in Toronto has prompted organizers of the city’s Veld Music Festival to allow attendees to bring naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of an overdose.

Seven people died during a Vietnamese music festival over the weekend, and the deaths are suspected to be drug overdoses — a disturbing and growing occurrence at music festivals during the last decade.

The Vietnam Electronic Weekend (VEW) festival took place Sunday at West Lake Water Park in the country’s capital, Hanoi. The annual event is an EDM (electronic dance music) extravaganza where thousands of fans gather to watch some of their favourite artists perform.

Many victims were escorted to the hospital after collapsing at the festival; at the time of this writing, five victims remain comatose in hospital.

Nocturnal Wonderland music festival at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, Calif.

Nocturnal Wonderland music festival at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, Calif.

EPA / PAUL BUCK

READ MORE: ‘Purple heroin’ found in fatal overdoses in Peterborough, Health Canada says

All festivalgoers involved in this tragedy tested positive for drugs, but Tay Ho District police did not disclose which substance the people used. Of the seven who passed away, five died in a nearby emergency hospital. Two went to the Hanoi Heart Hospital and died following admission. The victims ranged in age from 18 to 29.

A Vietnamese news source reported that ambulances rushed between the festival and the hospital. This began around 10:30 p.m. and continued past the closing of the festival grounds.

“I heard continuous ambulance sirens when I left at around midnight,” said one VEW attendee.

A concertgoer who spoke to a Vietnamese news site admitted that stimulants were being used by many throughout the duration of the night. The local police department is working to complete forensic tests and identify the suppliers responsible.

EDM DJ/producer Deadmau5 performs at The Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall's Island Park, N.Y., on June 6, 2015.

EDM DJ/producer Deadmau5 performs at The Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall's Island Park, N.Y., on June 6, 2015.

Robert Altman / Invision / AP

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Drug abuse is a known, rising problem at music festivals. Other than cannabis, various hallucinogens are among the most common, used to “heighten” the user’s concert experience and alter their perceptions. Attendees suspected of possession were searched upon entry at VEW; any substances found were then seized.

Vietnamese authorities have spoken before about a major increase in usage of methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant.

Just last week, two young Defqon.1 festivalgoers died in Sydney, Australia, after drug overdoses, and a dozen people were sent to hospital.

Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren at Untold Festival in Cluj-Napoca, Transilvanya, Romania, Aug. 6, 2016.

Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren at Untold Festival in Cluj-Napoca, Transilvanya, Romania, Aug. 6, 2016.

EPA / MIRCEA ROSCA

Toronto’s Veld festival is one of many in Canada that takes its safety policy very seriously. The EDM giant has been running since August 2012, and there have been recorded drug ODs since its debut, including two unfortunate fatalities in 2014.

Security isn’t always 100 per cent successful in seizing substances, however; INK Entertainment (the organization running the annual gig) allowed its guests to bring Naloxone — a drug used to reverse the effects of an overdose — last year.

An official from Toronto Public Health (TPH), Susan Shepherd, spoke to Global News about the injectable/sprayable reversing drug.

“Naloxone must be administered quickly during an overdose, and at a large scale event it may take some time for medical staff to arrive where the overdose is occurring,” she said.

Bob Rifo from The Bloody Beetroots during the 51st Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland. July 14, 2017.

Bob Rifo from The Bloody Beetroots during the 51st Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland. July 14, 2017.

EPA / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

READ MORE: Toronto’s Veld Music Festival introduces new safety measures amid recent spike in drug overdoses

In light of Sunday’s tragic deaths at VEW, all Hanoi music festivals have been suspended until further notice. Authorities and local officials did not comment about the tragedies on Monday morning.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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