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Drugs

Seven Vietnamese dead and five in coma after taking unknown drugs at Hanoi rave

Ravers at ‘Trip to the Moon’ event suspected of overdosing in what could be one of the largest mass deaths from drugs at a music festival ever

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2018, 8:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2018, 9:28pm

Seven people have died and five are in a coma after taking drugs at an electronic dance music festival in Hanoi late on Sunday, officials said, as authorities scrambled to trace the substance.

The victims – all Vietnamese – tested positive for an unspecified drug prompting officials to ban all electronic dance music festivals in the capital. The deaths have shocked the conservative city.

“Police investigators are trying to figure out what type of drug that was,” deputy director of Hanoi police Nguyen Van Vien told reporters on Monday.

Officials said the dead were all in their 20s, while the five people in a coma are between 18 and 30 years old. The sick are being treated in intensive care at two Hanoi hospitals.

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If the deaths are confirmed to be drug-related it could be one of the worst mass deaths at a music festival linked to narcotics in recent memory anywhere in the world.

Sunday night’s “Trip To The Moon” festival was hosted by Vietnam Electronic Weekend in Hanoi’s upscale West Lake, a neighbourhood popular among expats, teachers and youths for its nightlife and club scene.

Hundreds joined the event which sprawled across three stages and included dance music outfits Yellow Claw and Headhunterz on the line-up, according to the online flier for the event.

Investigators are trying to confirm who took the drugs into the venue and said all events of its kind would be banned in the capital pending the investigation.

“The incident … was very painful. It was a great loss,” said Tran Xuan Ha, deputy head of Hanoi government’s propaganda department said.

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Tickets to the event cost between US$21 and US$135 in a country which has joined Asia’s multimillion-dollar fixation on dance music.

Most ravers are found in the cosmopolitan and more freewheeling southern hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

But the party scene has gained popularity in the capital of the communist nation, as has drug use among young people.

It was the third Vietnam Electronic Weekend festival held in the country and was slated to be the biggest yet, according to state media.

Shocked Hanoians took to the internet on Monday.

“A warning message for those young ones who have been so irresponsible for their own [lives],” reader Nam Huynh wrote on VNExpress.

There are some 220,000 registered drug users in Vietnam, according to official figures.

In the past, most users were hooked on opium and heroin, though synthetics such as ICE and E are becoming increasingly popular, especially among Vietnam’s partying youth.

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The synthetic substances largely come into Vietnam through porous borders from the notorious ‘Golden Triangle’ drug producing zone – made up of parts of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand – though some high-profile busts in recent years in Vietnam have uncovered domestic labs.

On Saturday evening, two Australians died of suspected drug overdoses at an electronic music festival in Sydney, according to national broadcaster ABC.