A string of drink-and-drug casualties were treated outside a major event in Belfast last night, while others had to be taken to hospital.
Accounts of the numbers varied, but by 11pm the Belfast Trust said that 14 had been taken to the Royal and Mater hospitals, amid reports that dozens of others had also succumbed to the ill-effects of substance abuse.
The incident unfolded at the Odyssey Arena, where a large concert was taking place. The concert kept running throughout the emergency.
As reports filtered through, shortly after 9pm, a spokesman for the ambulance service told the News Letter: “Up to 60 people have presented with the effects of alcohol and some with the effects of drugs.
“A number presented unconscious. We have taken five people to hospital. We have five accident-and-emergency crews at the scene, along with a doctor. They’ll be assessed at the scene, and hopefully a large number of them will be discharged at the scene.”
By 10.30pm, the Belfast Trust said they had received nine patients, and by 11pm this figure stood at 14.
All were said to be in a stable condition, but were likely to be kept in overnight.
Dr John Kyle, a GP and PUP councillor for east Belfast, was at the emergency.
By 11pm he said it was winding down, adding that the whole scene underlined how “treacherous” drugs could be.
The Odyssey Arena itself released a statement last night, which read: “It is our understanding that a number of patrons arriving at the Odyssey Arena to attend a concert by Dutch DJ act ‘Hardwell’ have required medical attention, having arrived intoxicated at the Odyssey complex.
“These patrons were not granted entry to the Odyssey Arena, and were treated by the ambulance service outside.”
Police last night said: “A number of young people that were seeking to attend, or that attended, an event at the Odyssey Arena tonight were believed to be intoxicated.”
Fifteen were treated outside the venue, said the PSNI, and it is understand that more than 20 were treated inside.
They added: “Police inquiries are continuing.”
They later indicated a 15th individual had been admitted to hospital.