MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE 3) Two people died of heart attack and 46 others were injured during Wednesday?s celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene, police said.
At the same time, Police Director Geary Barias, National Capital Region Police Office chief, said they were verifying reports that a child also died during a stampede along Plaza Miranda where thousands of devotees had also converged.
Cecilia Fajardo suffered from cardiac arrest after she was crushed by the crowd that tried to touch the black statue of Jesus while Alex Radovan, 44, died as he was on his way to Quiapo Church from where the Nazarene began its procession, said Chief Superintendent Roberto Rosales, Manila Police District director.
Police placed the number of devotees at 2.2 million.
Police expect the number to reach three million as the Black Nazarene returns to Quiapo Church.
"Sobrang siksikan, sobrang excitement or exhaustion, siguro hindi na niya [Fajardo] kinaya [People were jammed, there was too much excitement or exhaustion that perhaps she could not take it," said Rosales.
Of the injured, nine suffered from hypertension; three from low-blood pressure; five fainted; nine sustained bruises or were crushed by the crowd; and five suffered difficulty in breathing, said Rosales.
They were brought either to the Ospital ng Maynila and Philippine General Hospital, he said.
Radio reports said 22 people were brought to the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital while another seven devotees were victims of pickpockets.
A report on dzBB said at least seven devotees were victimized by pick-pockets during the feast.
As of posting time, 16 ambulances are on stand-by, Rosales said.
Earlier in the day, 19 private schools in the area cancelled classes while public schools did not, the Department of Education said in an advisory.