Two men died while hundreds of people were either injured or suffered illnesses amid the throng of devotees that had poured into the streets of Manila today for the annual procession of the Black Nazarene, which crawled along an extended route from Luneta to Quiapo for only the second time in its history.
Organizers anticipated a bigger crowd than usual due to the disastrous year that just passed. Authorities have estimated 1.4 million people in the streets, with 50,000 waiting around the Quiapo church, the home of the Black Nazarene.
The procession traditionally snakes through the narrow streets of Quiapo, creating a crush of people desiring to touch the dark-colored statue of Christ said to hold miraculous powers. But the longer route today has served to decongest downtown Manila, with many devotees lining a longer distance. Even then, the crowd slowed the procession to a snail’s pace.
“Medyo mabagal ang pag-usad ng prusisyon dahil sa dami ng tao. (The procession moves a bit slowly because of the volume of people),” said Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, Manila Police director, in an interview over radio dzBB.