‘A disaster for Hong Kong’: Utter chaos

 

Scenes of chaos have erupted at Hong Kong, with protesters detaining several people including a mainland Chinese journalist.

The city's chief executive Carrie Lam warned Hong Kong was "on the brink of no return."

Hong Kong Airport was forced to cancel all flights for the second day in a row after protesters stormed the international airport's terminals.

The situation has been labelled a "disaster" for Hong Kong.

 

Increasingly violent protests have plunged the Asian financial hub into its most serious political crisis in decades, posing a challenge to the central government in Beijing.

The latest protest led to ugly scenes, when small groups of hardcore demonstrators turned on two men they accused of being spies or undercover police - and as desperate travellers pleaded in vain to be allowed onto flights.

 

Hong Kong's 10-week political crisis, which has seen millions of people take to the streets calling for a halt to sliding freedoms, was already the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous city since its 1997 handover from Britain.

But two days of protests at the airport have again raised the stakes for the financial hub.

Beijing is sending increasingly ominous signals that the unrest must end, with state-run media showing videos of security forces gathering across the border.

 

The footage shows army tankers purportedly moving towards the Hong Kong border.
The footage shows army tankers purportedly moving towards the Hong Kong border.

 

China's military on the move. Picture: Supplied
China's military on the move. Picture: Supplied

 

All check-ins were cancelled on Tuesday afternoon after thousands of protesters wearing their signature black T-shirts made barricades using luggage trolleys to prevent passengers from passing through security gates.

Scuffles broke out between protesters and travellers, and vigilantism occurred when demonstrators turned on two men.

 

 

MOB JUSTICE

Police have recently disguised themselves as activists to make arrests, a move which has sent paranoia soaring among protesters.

The first man was held for about two hours before eventually being led away in an ambulance. Riot police briefly deployed pepper spray and batons to beat back protesters while they escorted the vehicle away from the departures hall.

Another man, wearing a yellow journalist vest, was surrounded, zip-tied and then beaten by a small group who accused him of being a spy.

In a tweet, Hu Xijun, the editor of China's state-controlled Global Times tabloid -- which has vociferously condemned the protests -- confirmed the man was a journalist working for the paper.

The man was later driven away in an ambulance after protesters and volunteer medics carried him off.

By early Wednesday, most protesters had left and the South China Morning Post reported that the Airport Authority had obtained an injunction to remove demonstrators, although it was unclear how it would be enforced.

 

 

FLIGHTS

In a statement just after 5pm local time, flagship carrier Cathay Pacific said it had been forced to suspend check-in services.

"Customers are encouraged to postpone non-essential travel from Hong Kong on Tuesday 13 August and Wednesday 14 August and should not proceed to the airport," the airline said.

Yesterday, Cathay Pacific was forced to cancel more than 200 flights while the South China Morning Post reported up to 300 flights had been cancelled in total.

Earlier, the airport authority said it was suspending all departing flights as of 4.30pm.

"Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly at the airport today," the airport authority said.

After filling up the arrivals hall, demonstrators streamed into the departures area despite increased security measures designed to keep them out.

Pictures from the airport showed dozens of protesters lining baggage trolleys up to block departure gates this afternoon.

"This is a disaster for Hong Kong that will cost tens of millions of dollars," editor in chief and managing director of AirlineRatings.com Geoffrey Thomas told CNN.

The airport contributes 5 per cent to Hong Kong's GDP, directly and indirectly, Hong Kong's transport secretary Frank Chan added.

Travellers lucky enough to have completed their processes were allowed to operate.

Today is the second day in a row thousands of protesters disrupted one of the world's busiest airports.

It's the fifth consecutive day protesters have managed to block the airport's arrival and departure halls.

Over a loudspeaker, the airport authority said it did not expect arriving flights to be affected, though dozens of arriving flights were already cancelled.

Some flights were able to depart and land earlier Tuesday, a day after more than 200 flights were cancelled.

The public has been advised for days not to come to the airport.

Hong Kong has seen two months of anti-government demonstrations that have increasingly impacted day-to-day operations in the financial hub.

Protesters are calling for democratic reforms - specifically around a controversial bill that would allow extradition to mainland China - and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam earlier defended law enforcement actions after protesters prompted the airport shutdown yesterday.

Lam told reporters that dialogue would only begin when the violence stopped. She reiterated her support for the police and said they have had to make on-the-spot decisions under difficult circumstances, using "the lowest level of force."

- With AP


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