More than 25 people were treated after taking what is believed to be the synthetic drug GHB during the Electric Parade Music Festival at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl last night.
A fleet of ambulances shuttled overdose victims from the venue to the Alfred, Royal Melbourne and St Vincent’s hospitals, while at least six more cases were transported from other locations in and around the CBD.
Paramedics said they were disappointed in what they called the highest number of overdoses for some time.
“Really, that event was awash with drugs,” said Ambulance Victoria State Health Commander Paul Holman.
“This is particularly disappointing on a night when Melbourne’s out enjoying itself.”
GHB slows the heart and can cause blackouts and seizures.
“We’ve transported 22 people from that event alone, and we’re now up to 30-plus from that event and across the city, all with GHB overdoses, all critically ill,” Holman said.
The overdose epidemic marred what was otherwise a spectacular success, with Melbourne City Council officials estimating the crowd in the hundreds of thousands.
Police arrested 40 people at the festival, including 33 men and seven women, while 28 people received diversions and two were given cannabis cautions.
One man was charged after ecstasy, cocaine, MDMA, LSD, ketamine and hash were found on him.
He was remanded into custody.
Many of the city’s most iconic buildings were brought to life with spectacular light shows, with streets, parks, laneways and cultural landmarks filled with every art form imaginable.
The Royal Exhibition Building, State Library and Flinders Street Station were among buildings used as canvasses for moving light shows combined with sound.
The 12-hour festival, an annual event now in its fifth year, ran from dusk until dawn.