'Ompong' destroys equipment, communication system at Tuguegarao airport

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 15) — Tuguegarao Airport in Cagayan province has been closed Saturday because of damage from Typhoon Ompong.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, who is in Tuguegarao City, told CNN Philippines authorities are restoring communication facilites.

"Tinitingnan po namin at inaayos na po namin as of this time yung very high frequency and high frequency satellite communication system nang sa gayon kung may eroplanong darating ay mkakalanding po sila at may communication," Tugade said in a phone interview.

[Translation: "We are looking into it and we are fixing the very high frequency and high frequency satellite communication system so planes that will arrive can land at the airport because there is communication."]

The airport's reopening would allow the Air Force to bring in relief goods and personnel.

Tugade said the airport's runway may be reopened once it is cleared of debris.

However, Tugade said the baggage X-ray machine may have been damaged, along with the conveyor belt. "Mukhang hindi na muna magamit (It seems it cannot be used for a time)."

Photos taken by Transportation Assistant Secretary Giovanni Lopez showed damaged parts of the passenger terminal building, including ceilings, windows and other facilities.

Tuguegarao is the capital of Cagayan province, which was under Signal No. 4 overnight. This storm signal means winds of more than 185 kilometers per hour (kph) that may uproot large trees and could severely damage houses and buildings.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) placed Cagayan under Signal No. 3 Saturday morning and areas placed earlier under Signal No. 4. 

PAGASA said Ompong has weakened, but warned of "continuing threats and hazards" ahead of the typhoon's expected exit Saturday night.

More than a hundred domestic and international flights were canceled because of the typhoon.

LIST: Flights canceled due to Typhoon 'Ompong'