Two Kent musicians died five days apart in the same house after taking a drug 50-100 times stronger than heroin, an inquest has heard.

James Truscott, 25, and Maximum Martin, 35, had both consumed fentanyl, the super-strength synthetic opioid that killed pop legend Prince.

A third musician, Joshua Lambert-Price, 22, was found dead alongside Martin. His inquest will take place at the end of January.

The spate of deaths within the same small circle of friends highlights the acute danger of fentanyl, which UK dealers have begun to cut with street heroin.

A string of deaths in the Yorkshire around a year ago highlighted the disastrous effects one batch of the drug can have on a local drug-using community.

In the present case it is not clear if the men knew what they were taking, or if they were mixing it with anything else.

Truscott was found dead at a property on Tudor Road, Canterbury, on 24 August 2017, Kent Online reported.

Lambert-Price came down in the morning to find his friend's dead body next to an open laptop with remnants of white powder on it.

"His eyes were open and I called out and shook him. He did not respond and his lips were white and I couldn't feel a pulse," Lambert-Price told police.

Fentanyl deaths kent
Joshua Lambert-Price, 22, and James Truscott, 25 Facebook

The witness said he had urged Truscott to "sort himself out", adding: "Every time he wanted to take drugs, I told him to have some food."

But just five days later Lambert-Price would himself be dead at the address, found lying alongside Martin, who the coroner has confirmed was also high on fentanyl.

Tributes to the popular men poured in on Facebook, where there are also reports of packed funerals and wakes attended by members of the city's busking and artistic communities.

Martin's brother, Arthur Martin, told Kent Online others should consider the danger of taking recreational drugs, saying: "It cost Max his life and has caused great grief and distress for the family. All we can do is urge people not to do it because ultimately it ruins lives."

Fentanyl deaths kent
Maximum Martin, 35 Facebook

A UK fentanyl epidemic?

Fentanyl has embedded itself in North American towns and cities, sending drugs deaths to all-time highs in the US and Canada. President Donald Trump has described the situation as a "national health emergency".

Fears it was getting a hold in UK drugs markets emerged after a series of deaths, predominantly in Yorkshire and the north east of England, in late 2016 and early 2017.

The National Crime Agency briefed journalists in August 2017 to say that there had been 60 fentanyl-related deaths in the previous nine months. In October, IBTimes UK learnt that the figure had risen to 76.

However, NCA Head of Drugs Threat Lawrence Gibbons said the agency was "cautiously optimistic" that the threat was under control.

So far, the UK appears to be steering clear of a fentanyl epidemic. But the deaths in Canterbury highlight just how quickly a single batch of drugs can claim multiple lives.