Long lines of commuters are seen at Tseung Kwan O Station as MTR service is disrupted by protesters in the morning of Nov 11, 2019. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG - Traffic came to a standstill across vast swathes of Hong Kong and the city's sole rail operator, MTR Corp, truncated services across a number of routes as radical protesters descended on the city in droves to disrupt the morning rush hour.
As violence spiralled during the day, police fired tear gas in the Central business district where some protesters, crouching behind umbrellas, blocked streets as office workers on their lunch break crowded the pavements.
Some passersby took cover inside the Landmark shopping mall, one of the oldest and most expensive in Central, as volley after volley of tear gas rained down.
Man set on fire
Video images circulating online showed a man squirting petrol on another and setting him on fire, apparently outside Ma On Shan Plaza in the New Territories. Though engulfed in flames, the man was able to rip off his shirt and douse the blaze.
Video images circulating online showed a man squirting petrol on another and setting him on fire, apparently outside Ma On Shan Plaza in the New Territories
Without confirming the video, the Hospital Authority said a man had been admitted with severe burns and was in critical condition.
China Daily reporters saw protesters jamming MTR train doors with their feet and other objects at a number of stations, preventing trains from moving in the morning.
ALSO READ: Protesters block roads, trash metro station in HK
On many roads, bamboo rods, traffic cones, assorted rubbish, even upended chairs were used to set up makeshift roadblocks, blocking traffic and forcing hundreds to walk to the nearest MTR station and other transit points.
Groups of black-clad protesters began converging in various districts around 7 am ahead of the rush hour.
They hurled objects onto rail tracks and pelted running trains, vandalized MTR stations and prevented passengers from entering the stations. Windshields of two trains near Fanling station were shattered after objects thrown from above repeatedly hit them.
IN PHOTOS: HK commuters hit as protesters target rush-hour traffic
MTR services along Yuen Long and Tuen Mun stations were suspended, as also services between Fo Tan to Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau stations and Tseung Kwan O and Quarry Bay stations.
MTR stations have been closed in Whampoa, Tung Chung, Kwai Fong and Hang Hau. Light Rail in Tin Shui Wai was running a staggered service.
Radicals occupied sections of roads and set up blockades towards the approach of several tunnels and major trunk roads, causing severe traffic congestions.
A main road in Central, Hong Kong Island, is seen blocked by barricades set up by radical protesters on Nov 11, 2019. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)
After blocking lanes at the entrance to the Cross Harbour Tunnel at Hung Hom, some of the radicals fled into the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and vandalized facilities there.
In Tuen Mun in the New Territories, a group of radicals launched a "flash mob" at a bus terminal, in which they pushed a double-decker bus onto the road as a barricade.
Radicals also set fire to objects they used to build barricades at different locations. At the entrance of Tate's Cairn Tunnel in Sha Tin, smoke could be seen billowing.
ALSO READ: A day of frustration for city commuters
An online video footage showed that at an intersection near an MTR station in Sai Wan Ho, a police officer fired shot when he was trying to subdue a protester but was surrounded by several black-clad men. Hong Kong Hospital Authority said a man injured in the incident was sent to hospital.
Radical protesters set barricades on fire on a street in Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong Island, on Nov 11, 2019. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)
120 locations blocked
Police said protesters built barricades and blocked roads at about 120 locations across the city Monday morning.
Continuing this rampage is a lose-lose situation. For Hong Kong, everyone is a lose
Tse Chun-chung, Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent
Speaking at a press conference in the afternoon, Police Public Relations Branch Chief Superintendent Tse Chun-chung said that Hong Kong has been plunged into this chaotic and panic situation for more than five months.
"Continuing this rampage is a lose-lose situation. For Hong Kong, everyone is a loser," Tse said. "We appeal to everyone to please stay calm and rational. We must end all violence before the community can take a breather and recover.”
Since Nov 4, police have arrested a total of 266 people, including 212 men and 54 women aged between 11 and 74.
Probe into open fire incident
Tse also said police are investigating an open fire incident by an officer in Sai Wan Ho on Monday.
He said radical protesters set up barricades and blocked roads outside Tai On Building in the morning.
"Our officers arrived to disperse the mob and to clear the roads. One traffic officer who was not in riot gear arrested a person, then several others surrounded him. The officer pulled out his service revolver as a warning, however the protester did not stop attempting to snatch the revolver, Tse said.
"At that time, the officer believed it was very likely that the revolver would be snatched and the consequences would be disastrous. Death and casualties would have resulted, Tse said.
In the whole incident, the officer fired three shots, including one that hit that man. After the gunshots, the man attempted to flee but was subdued by our officer instantly.
The officer who opened fire had no bad intentions, Tse said.
He added the Regional Crime Unit of Hong Kong Island was carrying out an in-depth investigation into the incident.
Universities cancel classes
In Shatin and Tung Chung, in the course of dispersal and crowd control operations, police officers drew their service arms from holsters. In refuting online rumors that frontline officers were instructed to recklessly use their firearms today, the force iterated in the post that police had strict guidelines regarding the use of firearms and that all officers were required to justify their enforcement actions.
READ MORE: Police refute rumors of orders to use firearms recklessly
Affected by the chaos, the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Baptist University and The Education University of Hong Kong announced full-day cancelation of classes on Monday.
Early in the morning, schools urged students to excercise caution while traveling and the Labour Department urged employers to make flexible work arrangements for staff with regard to traffic and road conditions.
Radicals set a van on fire in Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong, Nov 11,2019. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)
A Hospital Authority spokesperson said patients who missed appointments because of traffic disruptions in various districts can call the clinics to reschedule.
The disruptions led to more than 100 bus routes being suspended or diverted. Some drivers and passers-by were beaten and kicked by groups of rioters when they were trying to remove the barricades or reasoning with the radicals.
According to the Hospital Authority, another 49 people were injured in violent incidents across Hong Kong as of 2 pm local time, including the man injured in Sai Wan Ho.
HONG KONG NEWS