Pope plane detours to avoid Hurricane Irma

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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.

TO COLOMBIA Pope Francis (C) waves as he boards an aircraft at Fiumicino International Airport in Rome on September 6, 2017, as he prepares to travel to Colombia. Pope Francis is starting his fifth visit as pontiff to his native Latin America region with a trip to Colombia as it moves on from a half-century civil conflict. AFP

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.

AFP

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