| 12.08,19. 10:14 PM |
Hong Kong airport cancels flights as thousands of protesters demonstrate at terminal
Photo: Protesters surround banners that read: "Those charge to the street on today is brave!," and "Release all the detainees!". (AP: Vincent Thian)
Hong Kong's airport has cancelled all remaining flights as several thousand pro-democracy protesters peacefully demonstrate at the terminal for a fourth day.
The international airport, one of the world's busiest, said in a statement on Monday that the demonstration has "seriously disrupted" airport operations.
All check-in services for departing flights have been suspended and only flights that have already completed the check-in process will move ahead the airport said.
The airport has also advised all passengers "to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible."
Members of the public have been warned to avoid the area.
Traffic on roads to the airport was very congested and car park spaces were full, the airport said.
The increasingly violent protests have plunged Chinese-ruled Hong Kong into its most serious crisis in decades and presented a serious challenge to Beijing.
The country has experienced more than two months of mass protests calling for democratic reforms and an independent inquiry into police conduct.
Authorities have arrested over 600 people since the rallies began in June.
Some of the protesters signs refer to a woman who was injured in her eye on Sunday during another night of violent clashes.
Local media quoted passers-by that she was hit by a beanbag round fired by police in Tsim Sha Tsui and has been sent to hospital for treatment.
Hong Kong police have defended their tactics and use of force against protesters, including using tear gas inside a train station on the weekend, deploying officers disguised as protesters and allegedly shooting at demonstrators at close range with pepper-spray pellets.
Deputy Commissioner Tang Ping-keung acknowledged that police use decoy officers in some operations but would not go into details.
"Our decoy officers do not take part in any unlawful activities," Tang insisted.
At the airport, a flight attendant protesting on his day off, who gave only his surname, Lau, to avoid repercussions from his employer, told AP that heavy-handed police tactics had alienated some people.
"The police have told a lot of lies to Hong Kong people. We cannot believe them anymore. We have to come here to protest," Lau said.
China has reportedly threatened to bar air crew who take part in protests from its air space.