Future Music Festival Asia Cancels Last Day After Multiple Fan Deaths

7:32 AM PST 03/17/2014 by Lars Brandle, Billboard

The fest in Malaysia -- which featured Pharrell Williams, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and more -- called off the third and final day after attendees died of suspected drug overdoses.

Six people have reportedly died from suspected drug overdoses at the Future Music Asia festival, prompting organizers to cancel Saturday's third and final day.

Future Music's Malaysia leg is one of the region's most popular dance-music-oriented festivals, with a lineup this year featuring Pharrell Williams, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Eric Prydz, Brodinski, Porter Robinson, Rudimental and Knife Party.

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Question marks remain over how many have died. In a statement issued on the weekend, organizers note that by 5 p.m. on March 15, "we can confirm that one death, and not five, took place on festival grounds on March 14." The statement continues, "A police report has been filed, and we are working very closely with all relevant authorities in examining and determining the cause of this very unfortunate incident."

A report in The Sydney Morning Herald and the AAP suggests up to six have died.

In a lengthy statement posted on its Facebook page, organizers Livescape Asia and Future Music later suggest multiple tragedies have occurred, noting they're "deeply saddened by the reported loss of lives on Friday 14th March. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those affected. The health and safety of our patrons is of upmost importance to us, and we are extremely devastated that circumstances such as these occurred despite the significant planning and resources in place."

Those affected "were believed to have taken the drug methamphetamine before going to the concert," Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Mohmad Salleh told reporters. He added that subsequent autopsies found that "all tested positive for drugs, and the deaths have been ruled as overdose."

According to reports, two Singaporean men and a Malaysian man were also listed as critical and were receiving medical treatment.

Police have arrested 19 festivalgoers, including 12 foreigners from Australia, Singapore and Indonesia, and seven locals for possession of drugs during the two-day concert, which began Thursday at Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

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Quoting ACP Tuan Mohan Singh, district police chief, IPD Cheras, the Future Music statement (via Facebook) reads, "We recognize the efforts of the organizers in putting in place preventative health and safety measures at the event. They have cooperated fully with the police on both days to create a safe environment for the public. What happened at the event is unfortunate, and we remind all members of the public of the immense dangers associated with the use of illegal substances."

There's nothing further to add outside of the statement, a spokesman for the fest tells Billboard.

Future Music Asia launched in 2012 through a five-year arrangement with Tourism Malaysia. It's intended to kick off a weeklong celebration that culminates in the Malaysian Grand Prix, which takes place this weekend.

Future Music is a spinoff of a multicity Australian brand, which became part of the Mushroom Group portfolio last year.

Organizers are now offering refunds to attendees of the Malaysia event.

This article first appeared on Billboard.com.

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