A man who died at Australia's Rainbow Serpent festival is believed to have drank amyl nitrite (poppers).
Triple J radio's
program has reported it understands the 22-year-old, who went into cardiac arrest and was unable to be saved by paramedics on Saturday night (January 28), swallowed the liquid, which is usually sniffed for a short rush and sold legally as leather cleaner.
"If people do something like drink a lot of it, it can have a really toxic effect," St Vincent's Hospital Alcohol and Drug Service clinical director Nadine Ezard told the the station.
"It means that the oxygen that's in your blood has a hard time getting into the tissue, so people don't get enough oxygen."
Victoria Police have not confirmed what led to the death, but Superintendent Andrew Allen said: "We believe that organised criminals are infiltrating this event to prey on young people and as a consequence we've seen the death of a 22-year-old man."
The right wing media has also been using the death in an attempt to create hysteria about the event.
Festival director Tim Harvey said in a statement on Sunday: “First and foremost, we want to forward our condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. The thoughts of all our staff and volunteers are with them during this extremely difficult time.
“Rainbow Serpent considers the safety of patrons a priority and we will continue to cooperate with authorities to determine exactly what happened in this situation. We are an extremely close knit community and the effects of this tragedy will be felt right throughout our staff, volunteers and patrons for a long time to come."
The festival has offered counseling to emergency responders and patrons who may have witnessed the event.
It is the second time someone has died at Rainbow Serpent, which celebrated its 20th anniversary at the weekend with more than 15,000 people in attendance.
In 2012, 34-year-old Daniel Buccianti died at the festival after taking what he believed to be acid.
His mother Adriana Buccianti has become a vocal advocate for introducing pill-testing at music festivals in Australia since then and was at the festival this year.
The Greens political party leader Richard Di Natale was also at Rainbow Serpent to speak about harm-minimisation and told the
the Victorian State Government needed to allow medical professionals to conduct on-site pill testing. ABC
"I just think it's really negligent that when a government has experts telling them that you have something at your disposal that could save young people's lives, that you would withhold that from people," he said.
The Victorian Labor State Government has said it has no plans to change the law to allow the measure.
But a parliamentary inquiry initiated by Australian Sex Party leader Fiona Patten starting next month will look at the effectiveness of the state's drug laws.
"I hope that the Premier will listen to the evidence and will listen to a joint-house, multi-party inquiry that will be looking at what drug policies work and what ones don't," she said.
Rainbow Serpent organisers again called for pill-testing to be allowed prior to the festival after the
deaths of three people who took what they believed to be MDMA in Melbourne a few weeks ago. Scott Carbines is Mixmag's Australian Digital Content Editor, follow him on Twitter [Image: Duncographic]