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Over 230 flights canceled in Hong Kong as protests continue

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's airport authority announced Monday afternoon that all scheduled departures for the remainder of the day have been cancelled due to a mass protest at the airport.

"As a result of the public assembly at the airport today, all check in services for departure flights have been suspended," the authority said in a statement issued at 3:30 p.m.

"Other than the departure flights that have completed the check-in process and the arrival flights that are already heading to Hong Kong, all other flights have been cancelled for the rest of (Monday)," it said.

In total, about 130 departing flights and 20 arriving ones have been cancelled.

Thousands of protesters angry with the government's inaction over an extradition bill and police violence in past protests swarmed the airport starting around noon, congesting airport-bound traffic including bus and train services.

"Don't trust Hong Kong police!" the protesters chanted to arriving visitors. Some wore eyepatches or bandages on their heads covering their right eyes to express solidarity with a woman injured by police in a protest Sunday night.


The woman was allegedly hit in the face with a police beanbag round and suffered a ruptured right eye, according to reports. She remains in hospital.

Measures that were put in place to maintain departing passengers' access failed to accommodate the crowd, leading to the airport advising people not to go to the airport, located on Lantau Island.

The demonstration follows a three-day peaceful sit-in at the airport's arrivals hall to protest against the now-suspended extradition bill.

Government officials condemned the protesters for forcing a shutdown at the airport and said it will resume operation only when flight safety and the safety of passengers and staff can be guaranteed.

The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council again strongly condemned violent attacks at different police stations over the weekend, in particular rioters who threw a petrol bomb that left an officer with burn injuries.

"Radical protesters have resorted to using dangerous tools to attack police, which are serious violent crimes and early signs of terrorism," office spokesman Yang Guang said at a press conference in Beijing. "Stopping violence and chaos and restoring order are now Hong Kong's highest priorities."

Also Monday, police demonstrated to legislators and reporters a water canon truck to be deployed to handle future mass protests, following another weekend of confrontations between protesters and police in multiple locations around Hong Kong.

The truck will be deployed in the event of mass riots that could lead to loss of life, damage to property or major thoroughfares being blocked, according to the police.

Millions of people have taken to the streets since June in protest against the controversial bill, which would allow fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with which the Hong Kong government has no extradition arrangements, including mainland China.

Facing widespread popular opposition, Chief Executive Carrie Lam moved to suspend the bill's legislative process and later declared it "dead" in a bid to quell public anger. However, the protests have continued to draw large crowds.

Some of the protests have turned violent and resulted in clashes between police and protesters, with one side resorting to tear gas, rubber bullets and other projectiles, and the other side countering it by throwing bricks, bamboo sticks and gasoline bombs.

So far, about 700 people have been arrested for offenses including rioting, unlawful assembly, assaulting police, possessing weapons and obstructing police duty, according to the police.