Hong Kong insisted on the ‘edge of no return’ while airport protests start on the fifth day. In her first public appearance since protesters managed to close the city’s international airport on Monday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that “it may take a long time for Hong Kong to recover,” but she insisted that the authorities continue to able to manage the situation.
“All we have to do is fight violence and rebuild the city,” Lam said.
Hundreds of passengers were left behind after all departing flights, and more than 70 arriving flights were canceled Monday, amid chaotic scenes within the airport while thousands of demonstrators descended on the main terminal.
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According to the airport’s website, a handful of flights departed after midnight.
An airport spokesperson said the flights would resume on Tuesday at 6:00 AM local time, although some inbound and outbound flights are still listed as canceled on the airport website. According to the CNN count, 150 outbound flights and 147 inbound flights were canceled from 7 a.m. to midnight Tuesday.
Demonstrations initially started at the airport on Friday, with a small number continuing to protest over the weekend. Monday’s massive gathering at the airport was fueled by widespread allegations of police violence during protests on Sunday.
During a sometimes noisy press conference on Tuesday morning, Lam said that the city had suffered “damage” caused by the “illegal activities” of protesters who “did not have the law in mind.”
“Riot activities have brought Hong Kong to the point of not returning,” Lam said. She said protesters had attacked “police officers with malicious intent” and insisted that “police are an important defense of Hong Kong.”
Lam’s comments came when protest organizers called on supporters to return to the airport on Tuesday, for what would be the fifth consecutive day of demonstrations at the aviation hub.
“We stayed here overnight because we want to show people that it is safe at the airport,” said a 23-year-old demonstrator on Tuesday, one of about 30 demonstrators who had stayed one night in the arrivals hall.
“We expect more people to participate in the afternoon and with enough people, we hope to paralyze the airport again as we did yesterday,” added the demonstrator, who would only give his first name, Pang.
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