MANILA (Updated 8:08 p.m.) -- Two men were killed while five others were injured as close to two million devotees poured into the streets Saturday for the annual procession of the Black Nazarene.

A television report confirmed the first casualty as Rodrigo Ocampo, 42, a resident of Makati City who died at the Ospital ng Maynila due to cardiac arrest shortly before noon.

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Earlier, devotee Bernardino Basilio, 40, was pronounced dead at 7:17 a.m. at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center.

Basilio suffered severe injuries after falling from the Black Nazarene's carriage before the procession started at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park.

Five other people were also rushed to the Ospital ng Maynila, including 80-year-old Avelina Bautista, who sustained a cut after a metal fell on her during the procession.

Four others were brought to the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, while another three are currently receiving medical attention for minor injuries at the Philippine General Hospital.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) said in a statement that it treated 402 people with minor health injuries and who have experienced dizziness as of this posting Saturday.

Some of the devotees also experienced hypertension and lack of oxygen.

One devotee, 33-year-old Marlon Ejero, was transported to Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center due to difficulty in breathing and chest pains.

The PNRC said Ejero had come all the way from Cavite City to attend the procession.

The Red Cross mobilized 227 volunteers, three rubber boats, and nine ambulances for the occasion to provide emergency assistance.

National Capital Region Police (NCRPO) spokesman Rommel Miranda told Sun.Star that they estimated 1.4 million people for the Black Nazarene's feast.

But a separate monitoring from Senior Superintendent Lito Mirasol, Manila police’s deputy chief for operations, pegged the crowd at over two million because the celebration fell on a weekend and for the disastrous year that just passed.

The procession was expected to pass through at least 30 streets in Manila, majority in Quiapo district.

Mirasol said that with thousands of devotees and a 6.3 kilometer route, they expect the procession to end before midnight.

Generally peaceful

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Leonardo Espina said the celebration was “generally peaceful” with only two recorded incidents of theft as of this posting Saturday.

“The celebration was generally peaceful. The police arrested two pickpockets of which two cell phones are recovered,” Espina told Sun.Star.

One of the identified suspects was Ronald Palado, 21, of Pasig City who was jailed Saturday morning for allegedly stealing a Nokia cellular phone of aging parishioner Antonio Aragon of Sta. Mesa, Manila.

Palado was taken to the Police Community precinct beside the Church and booked for theft.

A total of 1,500 policemen from the MPD were deployed throughout the procession route to secure the crowd.

’Be like Him’

Earlier Saturday, the devotees -- barefoot and clad in maroon and yellow shirts -- gathered at the Luneta for the Holy Hour and “Pananalita" at 3 a.m., which was followed by a mass officiated by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

“Mamuhay kayo ng simple katulad niya. Siya'y larawan ng kababaang-loob. Marunong siyang dumamay. Dalhin natin 'yung tatlong ugali ni Hesus hanggang sa ating pag-uwi (Live like him. He is a symbol of humility. He knows how to comfort. Let us bring the three values of Jesus even when we go home),” said Rosales in a television footage.

In his homily, Rosales challenged the devotees to be like the Black Nazarene, who was simple, humble, and charitable.

For his part, Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, spokesman for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said devotees have been moved by their "personal religious experience" but said they should not get carried away, warning that otherwise "it may sink to fanaticism."

The life-size wooden statue of Jesus Christ was brought from Mexico to Manila on a galleon in 1606 by Spanish missionaries. The ship caught fire, but the charred-black statue survived and thus was called the Black Nazarene.

Some believe the figure's continued survival of fires and earthquakes through the centuries, and bombings during World War II, are testament to its mystical powers.

In 2008, the annual procession attracted 1.5 million wherein two people died and at least 50 were injured.

Last year, the Church and the local government of Manila decided to change the route of the procession. Devotees, however, pulled the rope of the Black Nazarene’s carriage back to its original route, resulting in the wounding of nearly 100 people. (Virgil Lopez/With AP/Sunnex)