Pope's 'entourage plane' blown off runway minutes after pontiff's aircraft takes off safely in Philippines

Pope was speaking to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the region in 2013, when tropical storm Mekkhala blew in

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The Independent Online

A plane carrying officials from the Philippines crashed just minutes after Pope Francis’ own aircraft had cleared the runway.

The small passenger plane was carrying 11 people, some of whom are thought to belong to the Catholic leader’s entourage, when strong winds from tropical storm Mekkhala hit the aircraft causing it to veer off the runway, overshoot the tarmac and blow its front tyres.

None of the passengers are reported to have been hurt, but Tacloban airport was closed by officials as Mekkhala approached.

Pope Francis was in Tacloban to speak to the thousands of gathered Catholics, as part of his tour.

Dressed in a yellow poncho, the pontiff struck out from his prepared notes instead telling the 150,000 Catholics assembled in the wind and rain: "I don't know what to say to you, but the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you lost part of your families.”

Speaking through an interpreter, Pope Francis told applauding crowds: ““All I can do is keep silent. And I walk with you all with my silent heart”.

The Pope was forced to cut his days intinery short after warnings over the rising winds speeds promoted his pilot to move their flight forward.

Pope Francis disembarks from a passenger jet with his aides upon his arrival at Tacloban airport

Earlier, he apologised to nuns in Palo Cathedral for the rushed service before returning to Tacloban.

The city was among the hardest struck by Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the region in 2013, and was the strongest recorded typhoon on record ever.

Millions have been displaced, thousands killed, and many areas remain – two years after the natural disaster – without any serious recovery attempt in progress.