Millions of devotees in Philippines join Black Nazarene procession
Reuters

One devotee died and over 800 people were injured in Manila, Philippines after millions of people joined a religious procession featuring a blackened image of Jesus, the officials said on Wednesday. Last year, two people had died during the Black Nazarene parade.

On Tuesday, nearly 3.5 million barefoot devotees participated in the annual feast of the Black Nazarene, one of the world's largest Catholic festivals. The police described the event as a "generally peaceful" one despite the madness to touch the icon.

According to the city officials and police, a former jail officer died of a heart attack after joining the scramble on Tuesday morning. This incident took place when he tried to climb onto the carriage bearing an image of the centuries-old Black Nazarene.

People in the mainly Catholic Asian nation believe that the Black Nazarene possesses miraculous powers and thus they try to kiss or touch the icon with towels, risking their life and limb.

The Philippine Red Cross said that more than 800 people were injured in this year's procession. One of the injured people has sustained a suspected neck and spine injury in a fall.

The police had shut down mobile phone signals in many areas of Manila during the parade that began before dawn on Tuesday and ended after midnight, some 22 hours later. This initiative was taken to prevent potential terror attacks on the procession.