MANILA, Philippines - The annual procession of the ebony-coloured statue of Jesus Christ, believed to be miraculous by its devotees, lasted 19 hours as it ended early Saturday morning.
The centuries-old statue of the Black Nazarene arrived in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo at 3:38 a.m. after traversing a 6.75 kilometer route crossing the streets of Manila.
Some devotees who slept in the garbage-strewn peripheries of the Quiapo Church greeted the Black Nazarene with chants of "Viva, Viva" as it entered through Villalobos street.
1 fatality, 2 electrocuted
However, this year's procession was marred with tragedy as member of the Hijos de Nazarenos early into the procession, while two persons were electrocuted.
Renato Gurion, 44, died of cardiac arrest while escorting the statue. Gurion was rushed to the Manila Doctor's Hospital after he was extracted from the procession. He was declared dead on arrival.
Meanwhile, two persons were electrocuted after the roof of the apartment they were seating on collapsed as the procession traversed Guzman Street in Manila. The roof snagged into a wire that electrocuted the devotees.
During the arrival of the image, Quiapo Church rector Monsignor Jose Clemente Ignacio offered a prayer for Gurion.
The long procession of the statue was delayed for more than one and a half hours as the "pingga" or the lever connecting the rope to the Black Nazarene's carriage failed to be secured.
The said mechanical failure pushed the start of the procession at 8:09 a.m, the National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.
As of Friday evening, an estimated 12 million devotees participated in the two-day festivities, said Johnny Yu, the officer in charge of the Manila Risk Reduction and Management Office.
This figure exceeded the number of people who attended the Feast of the Black Nazarene in 2014.
In an update of the Philippine Red Cross released Saturday morning, there have been 1,238 patients treated where 597 devotees suffered from "minor" injuries such as wounds and lacerations on their feet while 21 were afflicted with "major" injuries which include difficulty of breathing, seizures, fainting, sprain, pain, and possible fracture.
The duration of the procession for 2015 was the similar with last year's. Meanwhile, the procession lasted 18 hours in 2013 and 22 hours in 2012.
Slight change in route
This year also saw a last-minute slight modification in the procession's route as it passed through Dasmariñas Street in Binondo instead of Escolta Street. The change was brought on Wednesday by a fire that razed an abandoned building which used to house the old City College of Manila. The organizers deemed that passing through Escolta would endanger the lives of the devotees as the said building might collapse.
The religious gathering, which is considered as one of the largest in the country, celebrates the feast of the ebony-hued statue that was hailed from Mexico. It arrived in Manila in 1607.
The procession commemorates the first procession of the statue from a church in Intramuros to Quiapo Church in January 9, 1767.