Nine backpackers from four countries were sent to hospitals in Australia this week, including at least three who were on life support Wednesday, after snorting a white powder sent through the mail. Seven men and two women, ages 21 to 25, snorted a white powder they assumed was cocaine around 9pm Tuesday after finding it inside a package delivered to the Perth property at which they were staying, reports the West Australian. Authorities now say the package from New York, which one of the backpackers says was addressed to someone not living at the Perth residence, contained hyoscine, an anti-nausea drug sometimes used in high doses as a date rape drug, after a friend found the backpackers semi-paralyzed and suffering from seizures and hallucinations, per the BBC and ABC Australia.
"We were powerless, we couldn't do anything," an Italian victim tells the West Australian, noting the white powder was labelled "scoop"—a possible reference to hyoscine's alternate name: scopolamine. The Italian is now out of the hospital, along with three French citizens, a German, and a Moroccan. A French man and a German woman remain in critical condition Thursday, while another French man is in stable condition. A doctor who said the backpackers arrived "in a state of agitated delirium," with several "put in a medically induced coma for their own protection," described the three still in the hospital as being on "full life support" as of Wednesday, per the West Australian. Doctors tells ABC Australia they might've died if ambulances had been delayed by just 40 minutes.