MANILA (UPDATE) - A member of the Hijos del Nazareno died of a heart attack while protecting the image of the Black Nazarene in Rizal Park Friday morning.
Renato Burion, 44, of Sampaloc, Manila, was one of several frontliners who protect the Black Nazarene image.
A member of Hijos de Nazareno identified as Renato Burion, 44 is pulled out from the carriage of the Black Nazarene after losing consciousness during the 2015 Translacion Friday. Burion was rushed to Manila Doctors Hospital but was declared dead on arrival. Photo for ABS-CBN NEWS
"The devotee had a heart attack and was rushed to the Manila Doctors Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival," Johnny Yu of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Office said.
Barangay kagawad Adam Sanding said Burion was trapped on top of the carriage as devotees scrambled on top of him in order to touch the image.
"Siksikan talaga, gusto makahalik, makapunas sa krus ng Senior," he said, referring to the image of the Black Nazarene.
He said it took 15 minutes for the official escorts of the image to remove Burion from the top of the carriage.
"Nandoon pa rin siya sa ibabaw ng andas, dun siya nakalupaypay. Nung inaangat na namin, sa sobrang daming sumasampa. Nahirapan din kami. Naipit pa rin," he added.
Sanding said Burion had only been serving as member of the Hijos del Nazareno for five years.
He said official escorts of the image are willing to lay down their lives to protect the image.
"Ang trabaho nga ng alagad o official escort ay number one, protektahan ang Senor. Pangalawa na lang ang buhay namin," he said.
Yu earlier said at least 450 devotees have received medical treatment since last night, he said.
A Pope Patroller report also said three men were arrested after setting off firecrackers near the Nazarene devotees.
Millions of devotees are expected to join the procession of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park to Quiapo Church.
The image left Quirino Grandstand past 8 a.m. after being stalled as the swarm of people made it difficult to move the Black Nazarene to the carriage.
Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno said an estimated one million devotees arrived at the Quirino Grandstand for the start of the procession. The crowd is expected to swell to 5 million by noon as it makes its way to the church.
Officials estimate the image will reach Quiapo Church in 12 to 15 hours. In 2012, the image took 22 hours to reach the church.
Moreno said rerouting due to the fire on Escolata Street delayed the procession by 30 minutes to an hour.
He said they placed cement roadblocks along the procession route as barriers.
The vice mayor is urging devotees to follow the route and avoid MacArthur Bridge.