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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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