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Electric Zoo deaths lead to early end to festival. Is ecstasy to blame?

Electric Zoo deaths: The third day of New York City's Electric Zoo music festival, a Labor Day tradition since 2009, was canceled Sunday after two deaths and several hospitalizations. Electric Zoo's last day would have included acts by Avicii, David Guetta, Diplo and others.

By Associated Press / September 2, 2013

Swedish DJ, remixer, and record producer Avicii poses for a portrait on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 in New York. Avicii was set to perform Monday at the Electric Zoo dance music festival, but his performance and several others were canceled after two deaths and several hospitalizations, apparently linked to the use of ecstasy.

Amy Sussman/Invision/AP

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NEW YORK

The last day of a New York City dance music festival featuring high-profile acts including Avicii, David Guetta, and Diplo was canceled Sunday after the deaths of two attendees and the hospitalizations of several others, apparently linked to drugs.

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The city said it recommended that the Electric Zoo festival end early after the deaths and illnesses during the first two days of performances on Friday and Saturday. The festival took place on Randall's Island in the East River.

"The Electric Zoo organizers have worked with city officials to reduce health risks at this event, but in view of these occurrences, the safest course is to cancel the remaining day of the event," the city said.

Police identified those who died as Jeffrey Russ, 23, of Rochester, New York, and Olivia Rotondo, 20, of Providence, Rhode Island.

Russ was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital around 3:20 a.m. Saturday, police said. He had been brought to the hospital from the festival.

Rotondo was taken to Metropolitan Hospital later Saturday, around 8:45 p.m., and was pronounced dead shortly afterward, police said.

The city says the deaths appear to have been linked to drugs, specifically MDMA, or ecstasy. A spokeswoman for the city medical examiner said autopsy results were inconclusive and further toxicology and tissue testing is needed.

The event's founders, Made Event, expressed condolences on its website to the families of those who died.

"Because there is nothing more important to us than our patrons, we have decided in consultation with the New York City Parks Department that there will be no show today," the statement said.

The festival has been held over the Labor Day holiday weekend since 2009. It draws sizable crowds to hear artists performing on multiple stages.

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