One man died Friday during an annual Roman Catholic procession, which was held in the Philippines' capital of Manila. The procession, which was attended by up to one million devotees, was held ahead of Pope Francis' visit to the country next week.
The man who died was a volunteer accompanying the statue of the Black Nazarene, which was taken around the city on Friday, Manila’s Vice Mayor Francisco Moreno said, according to The Associated Press (AP). Moreno added that the man died of a heart attack. Devotees in Philippines believe that the 400-year-old black statue of Jesus Christ has miraculous powers that can cure ailments and bring good health.
About 5,000 policemen were deployed for the procession and 1,000 military personnel were on standby, AP reported, citing Jigs Coronel, a senior police official. Hundreds of Red Cross workers were also on standby for any medical assistance that may be needed, Bloomberg reported.
The participation is expected to increase to nearly 5 million people by noon, as the statue makes its way to the Quiapo Church, ABS-CBN News, a local news network reported. Nearly 450 devotees have reportedly received medical treatment since last night. Also, three men were arrested for setting off firecrackers near Nazarene devotees, local reports said.
"This is like a mini-papal event in scope," Coronel said, according to AP, adding: "We'll be able to put to a test our security plans, crowd control, anti-crime measures, emergency and medical response."