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Aleksandr Popov via Unsplash

Everything we know about the ‘chemical attack’ at a nightclub in Doncaster

Clubgoers were left coughing and vomiting and eight people ended up in hospital after a ‘mysterious substance’ was released at Pop Works early on Sunday morning

When going to a club, the main dangers you might expect to encounter are probably to do with drugs or alcohol. But on Saturday night, clubgoers in Doncaster were faced with a chemical attack. 

Pop Works on Silver Street was evacuated and eight people were rushed to hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning, after a ‘chemical substance’ was released in the club. Emergency services were called to the venue just before 5:00am on Sunday morning, and police have designated the attack a ‘serious incident’. 

Witnesses report people in the club coughing, sneezing and vomiting after someone “let off a gas,” which police have now confirmed was “something akin to pepper spray,” debunking speculation that the gas used was tear gas.

Rebecca Giovani, who was at Pop Works celebrating her friend’s daughter’s birthday, tells Dazed that she’s still feeling the effects. “All I know is I was standing at the edge of the dancefloor waiting for my friend and I took a drink of my lager and noticed that my mouth, throat and nose were burning,” she says.

She says that her friend came out of the toilets coughing and they noticed that people were leaving. Rebecca started coughing too and “could taste something,” so they left as fast as possible.

“My friend’s daughter was having a panic attack which brought on her asthma due to whatever [the gas] was,” she continued. “She was one of those taken to hospital. We were told it was potentially some kind of gas [...] We are still experiencing burning in the mouth and throat and tight chest and headaches.”

“It scared us enough to not want to go back [to Pop Works],” Rebecca added. “It could've been much worse, though.”

Another woman who was taken to hospital left a comment on a Facebook post about the incident. “I was one of the eight people that got sent to the hospital, we all are home safe with no long term lasting effects from what we know of,” she wrote.

“Worst experience ever,” she added. “But glad we all got sent home.”

Commenters on a now-deleted Facebook post allege that those responsible for the chemical attack were not allowed into the club and only let the gas off from the entrance, though the details of the incident remain unclear. 

Thankfully, South Yorkshire Police said that nobody has been left with lasting injuries. In a statement given to Dazed, Superintendent Peter Thorp from Doncaster said: “While our enquiries into this incident remain ongoing, we want to reassure the wider public that this was thankfully a relatively minor release of something akin to a pepper spray, which didn’t cause any lasting injuries and the majority of people at the venue were unaffected.”

“However, the fact remains that whoever chose to bring that substance to the venue clearly did so to cause alarm or injury, and we are working to identify those responsible.”

Venue owners addressed the incident with a since-deleted post on Facebook. “On the early hours of Sunday morning around 04:55 AM we had to evacuate everyone out of the club, this was a big eye opener for us as a business and it was handled very well thank you to our door staff and management,” they wrote.

“We would like to apologise to everyone who was inside at the time and who was involved in the incident. What a world we live in that people would make businesses harder than it is in this trade after Covid.” The post continued: “We are deeply sorry. Our main priority is our customers safety and wellbeing after making sure that the care needed for those involved was provided.”

Police are calling for witnesses or anyone with information to come forward “so we can develop as comprehensive an understanding as we can of what happened.” 

Dazed has contacted Pop Works for a comment.

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