Two people have died and three remain in a critical condition, following reports of drug overdoses on site at Defqon.1 festival, which took place in Penrith on Saturday.
Police are investigating the circumstances around the death of a 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman who collapsed at the festival around 9pm.
On top of that, a 26-year-old woman remains in a critical condition in Nepean Hospital, while another 19-year-old man is in intensive care in Westmead Hospital.
Police also have made several arrests on the basis of drug supply, with one 22-year-old man being allegedly found with 20 packets of GHB. He and two other men arrested for drug supply offences have been refused bail. Two teen girls were also arrested, allegedly carrying 120 capsules internally into the Sydney International Regatta Centre where the festival was held.
355 drug searches were conducted at the festival, with 69 of those people found to be possessing drugs, including MDMA, cocaine and ecstasy.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has responded to these deaths (as Ten Daily points out) by vowing that Defqon.1 will never return to Sydney, or NSW for that matter.
“I never want to see this event held in Sydney or New South Wales ever again – we will do everything we can to shut this down … I don’t want to see this ever happen again – young lives lost for no reason,” Berejiklian said.
“I understand there were some deaths in the past, but to have at least two on one night when every assurance was given to those attending that it was a safe event – clearly it wasn’t when so many people have succumbed.
In a pre-emptive response to those advocating for pill-testing, Berejiklian implied that it’s not a possibility.
“Anyone who advocates pill-testing is giving the green light to drugs,” she said. “There is no such thing as a safe drug and unfortunately when young people think there is, it has tragic consequences.”
Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres, tweeted earlier today saying that the festival won’t be returning to the venue.
The Sydney International Regatta Centre will not be hosting Defqon.1 into the future.
— Stuart Ayres (@stuartayresmp) September 16, 2018
Defqon.1 has also released a statement about the deaths. It reads:
“In response to the police media statement made this morning, the organisers of Defqon.1 Australia are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of two of their patrons at Nepean Hospital after attending the festival last night and would like to convey their sincerest condolences to their families and friends. Thoughts and prayers are also with the young man and woman who are still in a critical condition.
“We are disappointed at the number of reported drug related incidents, we have a zero-tolerance policy in relation to drug use at the festival. Festival organisers are working closely and cooperating with the authorities regarding the fatalities and the number of medical presentations made during the evening, a full investigation is currently underway.
“As this is a matter with the NSW Police and the coroner and out of respect for the families and friends we are not going to speculate on the cause of death and we will not be making any further statements or comments.”