Police have discovered what was in a drug that led to the death of two men and saw eight others hospitalised in North Devon last week.

A major incident was declared a week ago, on Friday, April 26, when a number of people became seriously ill after taking an unknown substance.

At the time it was believed to be a bad batch of heroin, which police later thought may have been mixed with something else.

Now tests carried out on the substance revealed that it contained nitazenes, which are a banned synthetic opioid described as “incredibly dangerous.”

North and West Devon local policing area commander Superintendent Toby Davies said: “The substances have now been tested and found to contain nitazenes, which are incredibly dangerous.

“We believe there is no wider threat to the community and that the substance found on Friday has been contained.

“We are aware that our health partners are working with local drug users in a bid to safeguard them as much as possible.”

Enquiries by Devon and Cornwall Police remain ongoing.

Five people have been arrested in relation to the medical incident, which involved the Westward Ho!, Bideford and Barnstaple.

A total of people were admitted to North Devon District Hospital for treatment. A man in his 30s from Westward Ho! died as a result of taking the substance on Friday and a second man in his 40s, from South Molton, who had earlier been admitted to hospital, died late on Saturday – believed to be as a result of taking the same substance.

Two men and two women were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the supply of a controlled substance on Saturday, and a fifth person, a man, was arrested on the same grounds on Sunday.

All five have now been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

Although the threat is now believed to be contained, advice remains that anyone who believes they are suffering an adverse reaction or are in the company of someone in a need of urgent medical attention should call 999 for appropriate care and help.