Protesters have clashed with police at Hong Kong’s international airport after flights were disrupted for a second day, plunging the former British colony deeper into turmoil.
The scuffles broke out between police and protesters on Tuesday evening after an injured person was taken out of the main terminal by medics.
Several police vehicles were blocked by protesters, and riot police moved in, pushing some protesters back and using pepper spray at times amid heated scenes.
Protesters also barricaded some passageways in the airport with luggage trolleys and other objects.
Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said operations at the airport had been “seriously disrupted” and that departing passengers had been unable to reach immigration counters.
Hong Kong’s stockmarket fell to a seven-month low.
US President Donald Trump said the situation was tricky, but he hoped it would work out for everybody.
“The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation – very tough,” Trump told reporters during a visit to Morristown, New Jersey on Tuesday.
“We’ll see what happens.
“It’s a very tricky situation. I think it will work out and I hope it works out, for liberty. I hope it works out for everybody, including China. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt. I hope nobody gets killed,” Trump said.
Ten weeks of increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters have roiled the Asian financial hub as thousands of residents chafe at a perceived erosion of freedoms and autonomy under Chinese rule.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Hong Kong to exercise restraint and investigate evidence of its forces firing tear gas at protesters in ways banned under international law.
China rejected what it called the “wrongful statement” by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, saying it amounted to interference in its domestic affairs and sent “the wrong signal to violent criminal offenders”.
“The Chinese central government firmly supports Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the HK SAR government in discharging their duties in compliance with the law and supports the Hong Kong police force and judicial organs in enforcing the law decisively,” China’s mission to the UN in Geneva said in a statement.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam became emotional during a news conference in the government headquarters complex, which is fortified behind 1.8m-high water-filled barricades.
“Take a minute to look at our city, our home,” she said, her voice cracking.
“Can we bear to push it into the abyss and see it smashed to pieces?”
China this week condemned some protesters for using dangerous tools to attack police, calling the clashes “sprouts of terrorism”.
Hong Kong legal experts say Beijing might be paving the way to use anti-terrorism laws to try to quell the demonstrations.
The clashes at the airport followed an unprecedented airport shutdown on Monday.
Again on Tuesday, thousands of black-clad protesters jammed the terminal, chanting, singing and waving banners.