VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has made a surprise visit to the site of the devastating August earthquake in central Italy.

The Vatican said the pope arrived in Amatrice Tuesday morning, accompanied by the bishop of Rieti, and started his tour at the school. He then planned to visit the hardest-hit area of the town, which remains largely closed due to security concerns.

Francis had made clear his intentions to visit the quake-stricken zone but without announcing a date. He indicated that he wanted to go alone “to be close to the people.”