Chaotic scenes emerge from Hong Kong airport as protesters block terminal (VIDEOS)

A tourist gives her luggage to security guards as she tries to enter the departures gate during another demonstration by pro-democracy protesters at Hong Kong International Airport on August 13, 2019. File photo via AFP.
A tourist gives her luggage to security guards as she tries to enter the departures gate during another demonstration by pro-democracy protesters at Hong Kong International Airport on August 13, 2019. File photo via AFP.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled or suspended at Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday as pro-democracy protesters staged a second day of hugely disruptive rallies, defying warnings from the city’s leader who said they were heading down a “path of no return”.

The crisis, which has seen millions of people take to Hong Kong’s streets, was before this week already the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous city since its 1997 handover from Britain.

But the two days of protests at the airport, one of the busiest in the world, have raised the stakes yet again.

All check-ins were suspended 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.

“I want to shut down the airport just like yesterday so most of the departure flights will be cancelled,” a 21-year-old student who gave his surname as Kwok told AFP.

On Monday a crowd that police said numbered 5,000 filled the building to denounce what they said were violent tactics by police in trying to quell weekend rallies. Airport authorities in response cancelled all flights on Monday afternoon.

But despite Monday’s protest drawing a larger crowd, scenes from today’s protest were decidedly more chaotic, with videos emerging of scuffles between protesters and passengers making last-ditch efforts to catch their flights.

Some travelers said they understood and supported the protesters’ goals in spite of the delays, while others were less sanguine.

“I understand the basics of the protest and they’ve got a point: it’s about freedom and democracy and it’s incredibly important,” said Pete Knox, a 65-year-old Briton on his way to Vietnam.

Wing Au-yeung, who was delayed for five hours after stopping off in Hong Kong to collect his aged mother before traveling to South Korea with his family said protesters “can do what they want but it should not affect other people.”

One traveler, an 84-year-old Australian woman in a wheelchair, split the difference, saying that while she approved of protesters’ aims, she believed they were hurting their cause.

One video showed a emotional woman pleading with protesters to let her through, saying she had a baby back home that she needed to return to.

It remained unclear as of press time why officials hadn’t cancelled all flights as they did on Monday, even as a special advisory on the airport’s website advised all passengers to leave the terminal immediately.

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