Pope Francis arrives in rainy, windy Tacloban
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2015 - 9:21am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Airlines flight carrying Pope Francis landed at the Tacloban Airport at 8:50 a.m. on Saturday.

He was welcomed by Palo Archbishop John Du and walked ahead of the umbrella despite the rainy, windy weather due to tropical cyclone "Amang."

Pope Francis boarded the open-air Popemobile and later on donned a yellow raincoat similar to thousands of pilgrims prohibited from bringing umbrellas.

A huge crowd was waiting in the rain in the typhoon-hit city, chanting "Viva il Papa, Papa Francesco."

The pope will give a Mass on Saturday in an open field near the airport, and have lunch with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. He is in the Philippines after visiting Sri Lanka earlier in the week.

The crowd is drenched but festive, clapping in unison to blaring music welcoming the pope.

People were shouting and applauding every time they hear a plane land.

A police official estimates the crowd at 150,000 and says tens of thousands more are lined up outside.

Villagers hung banners welcoming the pope from the bow of a steel-hulled cargo shop that smashed houses when it was swept in by Haiyan and remains on shore.

"Pope Francis cannot give us houses and jobs, but he can send our prayers to God," said Ernesto Hengzon, 62. "I'm praying for good health and for my children too. I am old and sickly. I'm praying that God will stop these big storms. We cannot take any more of it. We have barely recovered. Many people are still down there."

The rains were brought by approaching Tropical Storm Mekkhala (local name: Amang), which has prompted authorities to suspend ferry services to Leyte province, where Tacloban is located, stranding thousands of travelers including some who wanted to see the pope.

Francis is on the second full-day of a three-day visit to the Philippines. He was in Sri Lanka earlier in the week.

He issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia's largest Catholic nation to urge families to be "sanctuaries of respect for life." - with reports from the Associated Press

ASSOCIATED PRESS ERNESTO HENGZON PALO ARCHBISHOP JOHN DU PAPA FRANCESCO PHILIPPINE AIRLINES POPE POPE FRANCIS SRI LANKA TACLOBAN AIRPORT TROPICAL STORM MEKKHALA
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