Riot police storm Hong Kong Airport after second day of cancellations due to protests

winhorse/iStock(HONG KONG) — Hong Kong International Airport canceled all flights for the second straight day on Tuesday as crowds of anti-government protesters clashed with police as they continued to occupy the terminals.

“Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted, and all check-in processes have now been suspended,” the airport authority said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Travelers at the airport, one of the world’s busiest, were advised to leave the terminals as quickly as possible and contact the airlines for more information.

Some flights were able to depart from the airport earlier on Tuesday before the suspension was announced. Flights have also been allowed to land in Hong Kong.

Protesters in the semi-autonomous city have held massive rallies since early June to protest an extradition bill that would have allowed any country — including China — to request the extradition of an individual from Hong Kong for trial. Many who oppose the proposed legislation fear that China could use it to arrest political dissidents.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam eventually backed down, saying action on the bill had been suspended indefinitely. But the marches have continued, as protesters demand an independent commission to investigate police conduct in the handling of the protests.

Tuesday marked the fifth consecutive day that demonstrators have occupied the airport.

The demonstrations have become more heated since the movement’s peaceful beginnings 10 weeks ago, when hundreds of thousands of mostly young protesters marched against the government’s proposal to change an extradition law that would allow individuals to be sent to mainland China for trial. Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, suspended the bill indefinitely but stopped short of completely withdrawing it from the legislative agenda.

At times, the protesters clash with police, who use tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and other projectiles to control the crowds.

On Monday, as demonstrators shut down Hong Kong’s airport, a Chinese official said Hong Kong had reached a “critical moment” and that protesters “have begun to show signs of terrorism.”

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