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Devotee dies at end of Nazarene procession

MANILA, Philippines - Another devotee died in this year’s Feast of the Black Nazarene, bringing the number of fatalities to two, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said yesterday.

PRC secretary-general Gwendolyn Pang said 18-year-old Christian Mhel Lim was found slumped on the pavement near a convenience store adjacent to the Quiapo Church just as the procession ended early yesterday.

“Our staff attended to him but he was pulse-less so they rushed him to hospital,” Pang said.

Lim, a resident of 139 Salvador St., Sta. Quiteria, Caloocan City, was pronounced dead on arrival at the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital.

Pang said Lim was observed to have bruises on his body.

“The police are now investigating. The Black Nazarene committee will decide if they will declare his death as part of the event’s casualties,” she added.

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According to Inspector Steve Casimiro, Manila Police District homicide section chief, doctors said Lim died from “traumatic injuries.”

The first casualty, 44-year-old Renato Gurion suffered a heart attack shortly after they left Quirino Grandstand to start the procession.

Gurion is a member of the Hijos del Nazareno, assigned by the church to secure the Nazarene during the procession.

Quiapo Church rector Monsignor Jose Clemente Ignacio Jr. condoled with the families of the two casualties.

“I am very saddened that something like this happened and we are expressing our sympathy to the family. One of them was even close to us because he is a servant of the Church,” Ignacio said.

Ignacio added the Quiapo church is willing to lend assistance to Lim’s family.

Ignacio also noted reports of some devotees getting electrocuted. He said the Quiapo Church would verify this information.

“Once the procession organizers have rested, I would call for a review so that we would know what really happened,” he said.

He said the start of the procession, when devotees rush toward the image of the Black Nazarene and get the opportunity to be among the first to pull the rope of the carriage, is among the “critical areas” where a lot of people would get hurt.

The entrance of Quiapo Church is also considered a critical area since the large crowd of devotees would have to squeeze into the limited space of the main door.

Despite reports of two casualties and more than a thousand injured, Ignacio said the number of injuries was lower compared to last year.

“I have not seen the final report. But the crowd is bigger this year,” he said. – Evelyn Macairan, Mike Frialde. Aie Balagtas See

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