Australia’s Pitch Festival Canceled After Extreme Heat, Suspected Overdose

Melbourne, Australia’s Pitch Music & Arts Festival was forced to cancel its final day of programming last weekend following intense forecasted heat, “extreme fire danger,” and the death of a 23-year-old man due to a suspected drug overdose.

The individual was airlifted to Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital in critical condition early Sunday morning, March 10, where he later died. Two other men in their 30s and 40s were also transported to an area hospital in stable condition due to suspected overdoses.

“We are deeply saddened to learn this evening that one of our People of Pitch has passed away after being airlifted to the Alfred Hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning,” festival organizers wrote yesterday. “Our thoughts are with their family, friends and anyone in our wider community affected by this.”

“We are devastated that this has occurred at an event where community has been a driving force over the last seven years,” the statement continued.

The death has led local officials like Victorian Greens party spokesperson Aiv Puglielli to again call for regulated pill testing across the Australian state of Victoria.

“While this Labor government continues to stall, young Victorian lives are being put at risk,” Puglielli said in a statement shared with The Guardian. “Even with pure MDMA we’ve seen how extreme heat can deal a deadly blow. So with untested drugs circulating, this was truly a disaster waiting to happen.”

According to VICE Australia, the extreme heat Puglielli referenced was felt in full force at Pitch last weekend, with large portions of Victoria experiencing temperatures as high as 104 degrees. 

An extreme fire danger rating from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) forced the cancelation of all festival programming from 12AM on Friday to 6PM on Saturday. A final announcement from Pitch yesterday confirmed that all music would end early—by 7PM on Sunday—following “consultation with authorities.”

Many ticketholders have criticized organizers on social media for delivering mixed messages about the event’s proceedings. Buses to and from the festival were reportedly shut down as organizers determined the festival’s outcome. A reported 18,000 people attended this year’s Pitch Music & Arts Festival, one of the largest electronic festivals in Australia.

Pitch has announced that ticketholders will receive refund updates as more information becomes available.

Featured image from Pitch Music & Arts Festival.




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