Suffocating, panic, chaos: witnesses describe Hanoi music fest scene

By Viet Tuan, Giang Chinh   September 17, 2018 | 08:11 pm PT
Suffocating, panic, chaos: witnesses describe Hanoi music fest scene
EDM fans attend the Vietnam Electronic Weekend festival in Hanoi on Sunday night. Photo by Dang Khoa
People attending the Hanoi music festival where seven died of drug overdose say a chaotic atmosphere prevailed.

Pham Uyen, who attended the Vietnam Electronic Weekend Festival at the West Lake Water Park in Tay Ho District on Sunday evening, said there were three stages at the concert which attracted thousands of people, with the main stage luring the most because that is where the DJs stood.

“The area around the main stage, however, was quite small and with the roof, it was very suffocating,” she said.

Around 8 p.m., a girl fainted near Uyen.

“Everybody was in a panic and did not know what to do. The crowd was too big and I heard people saying that the girl has used drugs. Around half an hour later, two more fainted. I saw the ambulance come to take them and the event kept going on.”

Uyen also said she saw a group of around ten people sitting together and it looked like they were using drug-laced candies and stamp drugs.

"There were not enough security guards at the event and they were not quite professional," she said.

And when the event was about to end, she and others "heard ambulance sirens screaming repeatedly, and everybody was frightened and the area around the main stage was in chaos."

Dang Khoa, a 25-year-old man who attended the event, told VnExpress International that his friend had to go out to breathe because there was a serious lack of air inside. It was suffocating, he said, corroborating Uyen.

Hoang Hai Quan, another participant, confirmed that it was a small space with too many people in it. There were around 5,000 people, he said.

"I left around midnight and heard the ambulance sirens scream continuously."

According to the police in Tay Ho District, seven people died at local hospitals and five other participants are receiving treatment.

All the 12 people, between 18 and 29 years old, tested positive for narcotics. Initial results show that the patients tested positive for meth, synthetic drugs, marijuana and ecstasy.

Whether the victims were in the same group have not been ascertained. Numerous balloons containing nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, as well as pills of unknown origin were found at the scene, police said.

Drug use is illegal in Vietnam, where users are subject to cash fines while traders and those accused of harboring or inducing the use of narcotics are punished by long imprisonment.

As investigation is continuing, Hanoi has decided to suspend all music festivals until further notice.

The music festival was organized by Vietnamese event planning firm A Chau.

Dubbed the biggest electronic music event ever in Vietnam, it was joined by top DJs including Ben Nicky, Yellow Claw and Headhunterz.

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