Almost 1,000 hurt in Black Nazarene procession

Posted at 01/09/2012 9:30 AM | Updated as of 01/10/2012 7:31 AM

MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) - Almost 1,000 devotees were injured during the procession of the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila Monday, as millions of devotees gathered to celebrate the feast despite a terrorism threat.

Latest reports said emergency volunteers treated at least 921 people after devotees pushed and shoved to get near the sculpture of the Black Nazarene during the traditional procession.

The Philippine Red Cross has treated 421 injured devotees, while the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and other rescue and first aid units have treated around 500 people.

News footage of the procession showed a steel railing being toppled right after the Mass celebrated by newly installed Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle at the Quirino grandstand. An elderly woman and a barefoot man were also seen grimacing in pain before being carried off to get medical treatment.

ABS-CBN reporter Sol Aragones said hundreds of devotees surged forward "like a wave" to get near the relic right after the Mass. She said many devotees sustained leg and head injuries during the mini-stampede.

A man injured his neck after a fellow devotee who was trying to wipe his white cloth on the image fell on him.

Meanwhile, the procession was stalled after the rear tires of the carriage carrying the image of the Black Nazarene broke down. One of the ropes connected to the carriage also broke, causing a delay in the procession in the area of Roxas Boulevard and Padre Burgos Street near Manila Hotel.

The procession also stalled after and tension ensued after devotees refused authorities' efforts to shorten its route.

Manila police and some of the millions of devotees engaged in a shoving match at around 9 p.m. after authorities tried to implement the decision of Monsignor Clemente Ignacio, rector ng Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, to no longer follow the original route and instead bring the religious icon directly to the Quiapo church.

Devotees of the Black Nazarene became angry when police tried to direct the carriage carrying the image along Palanca Street left toward Villalobos Street in Manila.

People also tried to overturn an L300 van with a speaker system that police tried to address the crowd.

It has been stuck for more than two hours now at Palanca.

At least 2 million devotees from across the country are taking part in the traditional grand annual procession of the Black Nazarene.

The event highlights the 405th celebration of the feast of the traslacion, which commemorates the transfer of the sacred image from the Recollect Church in Intramuros, Manila to the Quiapo Church in 1787.

The procession from Rizal Park to Quiapo Church is expected to last from 10 to 12 hours, or until midnight.

President Aquino earlier warned that terrorists could carry out an attack during the procession for the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila. With reports from radio DZMM