Scenes of chaos in Hong Kong after protesters stop roads, MTR trains and even airplanes from taking off

caption
Left: Protesters blocked MTR doors from closing, sparking anger among commuters trying to get to work.
Right: A vehicle crashes into protestors barricading a major road in Yuen Long.
source
Twitter screengrabs/ @karenised / @CarlZha

Mondays for the financial hub of Hong Kong are usually busy and bustling, but today (August 5), the city was gripped by business of a very different kind.

Many of the city’s transport nodes came to a standstill on Monday morning, when eight MTR train lines had to be suspended or partially suspended after protesters left umbrellas, fire extinguisher or sat in between carriage doors to prevent them from closing, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

At 6:58am in the morning, the Post had reported that Hong Kong International Airport would face major disruptions from midday until 6am on Tuesday due to a staff shortage. Some 230 flights were cancelled before 11am the same morning after air traffic controllers called in sick en masse, SCMP said. The Airport Express train service was also one of the train services that had to be suspended briefly.

According to SCMP, some protesters were seen bowing apologetically to commuters while preventing train doors from shutting. At some stations, such as Diamond Hill, protesters and commuters engaged in heated argument over the disruption.

Twitter users shared a graphic saying that train services had not resumed normal status by noon, but MTR confirmed all services had resumed by 1pm, Bloomberg reported.

In Hung Hom, protesters also briefly blocked the Cross-Harbour Tunnel that links the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

caption
Protesters use barricades to block the road at the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Hong Kong on August 5.
source
Reuters

At one point, there were 1,000 protesters at Yuen Long station chanting: “Liberate Hong Kong! The revolution of our times!”

The protesters later also barricaded Castle Peak Road in the town to stop traffic from moving.

Later, a motorist was caught on camera ramming their vehicle through the barricades. At least one person was hit by the vehicle, SCMP said.

Later, another major road in Wong Tai Sin station – which on Saturday night saw police clash with protesters and angry residents – was also blocked.

Singer and activist Denise Ho shared a video on Twitter purportedly of protesters disrupting traffic at a roundabout intersection in Tai Po.

The situation was so bad that Chief Executive Carrie Lam made a direct appeal to protesters – her first press address in two weeks – saying: “We hope our residents think about: are we gambling with the welfare of 7 million people?

“Our society is becoming unsafe and unstable. Discontent with the government doesn’t justify the use of violence,” SCMP quoted her as saying.

Reiterating that she would not resign, Lam said the “one country, two systems” model of Hong Kong’s government is being threatened.

Several malls, including Pacific Place at finance centre Admiralty and New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, were quiet as shop owners stayed closed and shoppers stayed away.

 

caption
A commuter argues with a protester as a train is stalled during disruption of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) services by protesters, in Hong Kong August 5.
source
Reuters

According to SCMP, several more rallies are expected to take place on Monday, including one at the Sha Tin mall, where protesters have already gathered.

The protesters are demanding the full withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill with China, as well as official action to be taken against police officers for their handling of recent protests and unrest.

Over the weekend, various parts of the city from Wan Chai to Kowloon were also halted after protesters and police officers took over, with tear gas fired and arrests made.

The Straits Times reported that as many as 13,000 civil servants filled Chater Garden in Hong Kong’s business district on Friday night in a rare show of support to anti-extradition protesters.

On Sunday, young protesters descended on roads in busy areas such as Causeway Bay and Kwun Tong, prompting police to respond with tear gas. After police response, the protesters then moved to another location.

According to SCMP, it appears that young radicals are now deploying the tactic of “advancing and retreating on a moving battlefield”.

“The method to the mayhem appeared to be creating enough chaos to draw out the police before moving on to another target, leaving the force to play catch-up,” SCMP reported.

Read also: