City on brink as protesters unleash travel chaos: Hong Kong leader

Vastavam web: Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters are close to creating a “very dangerous situation”, the city’s leader warned Monday as train travel and international flights in the global financial hub were thrown into chaos. The peak-hour efforts to lock down Hong Kong’s transport sector on Monday morning followed two months of unprecedented and often violent unrest, fuelled by demands for greater democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

With commuters unable to get to work and international travellers facing delays, chief executive Carrie Lam held a press conference to warn protesters and signal authorities would not buckle under the growing pressure. “(They) have seriously undermined Hong Kong’s law and order and are pushing our city, the city that we all love and many of us helped to build, to the verge of a very dangerous situation,” Lam said. She spoke shortly after activists descended on key subway stations during the morning rush hour, deliberately keeping open doors to stop trains departing, crippling multiple lines and triggering occasional scuffles.

More than 100 flights at the city’s airport one of the world’s busiest were also listed as cancelled on Monday morning. Many disrupted flights were with Cathay Pacific. The carrier did not give a reason for the cancellations, but its flight attendants union confirmed some of its members had walked out.

“Over the last 50 days, the government has been ignoring the demands of the people and using only police force to try to suppress voices, causing countless Hong Kong people to despair,” the union said in a statement on its Facebook page. Some key roads were also blockaded, causing traffic gridlock, as the protesters urged a general strike across the city.

But people from all walks of life indicated plans online to either strike or phone in sick on Monday — from civil servants and social workers, to bus drivers and even employees of the city’s Disneyland. Many shops across the city were shuttered, including fashion outlets in the central commercial district like Topshop and Zara. Alongside the strike, protesters planned to hold rallies in seven different parts of the city on Monday.