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Hundreds injured in Philippines religious procession • Sunday January 9, 2011

At least 454 people were injured in the Philippines on Sunday as more than 1 million barefoot devotees joined an annual procession to honour a centuries-old statue of a suffering Jesus Christ, known as the Black Nazarene.

Undaunted by rain, the devotees pushed and shoved to touch the statue, which was carried on a carriage during the six-kilometre procession from Luneta Park to Quiapo Church in downtown Manila, DPA reports.

They threw white towels and handkerchiefs to volunteers atop the carriage to wipe on the statue before throwing them back to the crowd. People believe the Black Nazarene has healing powers.

Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine National Red Cross, said 454 people were treated for various injuries and other medical problems during the nine hours of the procession, which was expected to end later Sunday.

‘Many of the victims had their feet ran over by the wheels of the carriage, while others stepped on sharp objects,’ she said. ‘A number also fainted or had difficulty breathing.’

The wooden statue of Christ, crowned with thorns and bearing a cross, is believed to have been brought from Mexico to Manila in 1606 by Spanish missionaries. The ship that carried it caught fire, but the charred statue survived and was then called the Black Nazarene.

Some believe the statue’s survival of fires and earthquakes through the centuries, and intense bombings during World War II, are a testament to its mystical powers, AP writes.

See also: Nazarene draws 1.7M and p

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