VATICAN CITY: The plane carrying Pope Francis to Colombia has been forced to change its flight plan to avoid a run-in with monster Hurricane Irma, which is barrelling its way across the Caribbean.
“Because of a hurricane, the Holy Father’s flight will take a more southern route and will enter the airspaces of three other countries,” Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago, the Vatican said in a statement Wednesday.
The special Alitalia flight carrying the head of the world’s Roman Catholics to Latin America set off from Rome shortly after 11am (0900 GMT) and was originally scheduled to arrive at 4:30 p.m. local time (2130 GMT) in Bogota.
The Vatican did not say whether the changes to the flight plan would affect the arrival time.
Pope Francis’s trip, his 20th since his papacy began four years ago, will see him plead for a “stable and lasting” peace in a divided country just emerging from a 50-year war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives
Hurricane Irma, a rare Category Five storm, was expected to move over other parts of the northern Leeward Islands on Wednesday, before heading northwest toward the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida.