Hong Kong’s airport shut down after thousands protest

Authorities said more than 5,000 demonstrators gathered in Hong Kong International Airport. (AFP)
Updated 12 August 2019
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Hong Kong’s airport shut down after thousands protest

  • Chinese government coined some of the more violent protests as “terrorism”
  • The demonstrations started 10 weeks ago

HONG KONG: All flights in and out of Hong Kong were canceled on Monday after thousands of pro-democracy protesters flooded the city’s airport to denounce police violence.
The abrupt shutdown at one of the world’s busiest hubs came as the Chinese government signaled its rising anger at the protesters, denouncing some of the violent demonstrations as “terrorism.”
The developments marked yet another dramatic escalation in a 10-week crisis that had already become the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of Hong Kong since the 1997 British handover.
A crowd of protesters that authorities said numbered more than 5,000 descended on Hong Kong airport on Monday carrying placards and chanting slogans denouncing police violence at previous rallies.
Although other rallies had been held over the previous three days, the airport authority said Monday’s one had caused significant chaos.
“Airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly at the airport today,” it said in a statement.
“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 canceled for the rest of today.”
It warned that traffic to the airport was “very congested” and the facility’s car parks were completely full.
“Members of the public are advised not to come to the airport.”
At the airport, protesters held signs reading “Hong Kong is not safe” and “Shame on police.”
They were responding to allegations that police were using increasingly violent tactics to suppress protests.
Over the weekend police fired tear gas into subway stations.
Protesters were also enraged at police apparently dressing in the black T-shirts worn by the pro-democracy movement to infiltrate the rallies and make surprise and violent arrests.
Protesters responded on the weekend by hurling bricks and spraying riot police with fire extinguishers and water hoses.
A government official said 45 people were injured in the clashes, including two who were in serious condition.
Among them was a woman who suffered a serious face injury, reportedly after being hit by a bean bag round, with rumors circulating that she had lost her vision in the incident.
Images of her lying on the ground with blood pouring from her face quickly went viral and featured on posters calling for new demonstrations.
It was the 10th consecutive weekend that protesters have taken to the streets in a movement that began over opposition to a bill allowing extradition to mainland China.
The protests have morphed into a broader bid to reverse a slide of democratic freedoms in the southern Chinese city.
In Beijing, authorities slammed violent protesters who had thrown petrol bombs at police officers and linked them to “terrorism.”
“Hong Kong’s radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging,” said Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.
“This wantonly tramples on Hong Kong’s rule of law and social order.”


Tens of thousands homeless a year after Indonesia quake: Red Cross

Updated 23 September 2019

Tens of thousands homeless a year after Indonesia quake: Red Cross

  • Around 57,000 people “are still living in temporary accommodation, unsure where and when they can rebuild” according to the the Indonesian Red Cross
  • The World Bank offered Indonesia $1 billion dollars in loans to help get the city back on its feet

Jakarta: Nearly 60,000 people are still living in makeshift accommodation nearly a year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami pounded the Indonesian city of Palu, the Red Cross said Monday.
The magnitude 7.5 quake and subsequent deluge razed swathes of the coastal city on Sulawesi island last September, killing more than 4,300 people and displacing some 170,000 residents.
The force of the impact saw entire neighborhoods levelled by liquefaction — a process where the ground starts behaving like a liquid and swallows up the earth like quicksand.
It also destroyed fishing boats, shops and irrigation systems, robbing locals of their income.
A year later, around 57,000 people “are still living in temporary accommodation, unsure where and when they can rebuild” said the Indonesian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“We are hoping the government will redouble their efforts to identify settlement areas and help thousands of families... build permanent homes,” said Jan Gelfand, head of the IFRC Indonesia country office.
Saturday marks one year since the double disaster.
Earlier the World Bank offered the country up to $1 billion in loans to get the city back on its feet.
Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.
The sprawling archipelago is also dotted with more than 100 volcanoes, including one that erupted between Java and Sumatra in late 2018 and unleashed a tsunami that killed more than 400 people.
On Boxing Day 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 across the Indian Ocean region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.