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Monday, August 12, 2019, 18:02
HK police demonstrate water cannons as protests intensify
By Chen Zimo
Monday, August 12, 2019, 18:02 By Chen Zimo

Hong Kong police show a special crowd management vehicle at Police Tactical Unit Headquarters in Fanling, New Territories, on Aug 12, 2019. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG - Hong Kong Police said on Monday that if needed, it will deploy special crowd management vehicles equipped with water cannons during large-scale unrests that endanger public order and personnel safety.

Two of three vehicles owned by the force were displayed to 19 members of Legislative council and reporters at the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) Headquarters in Fan Ling, the New Territories

Two of three vehicles owned by the force were displayed to 19 members of Legislative council and reporters at the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) Headquarters in Fan Ling, the New Territories.

Each vehicle has two principal water cannons mounted on the roof. Application of varying pressure could have different impacts on the crowd, Chan Kin-kwok, commandant of Police Tactical Unit, said.

READ MORE: A tense night of chasing mob protesters in HK

Police demonstrated the water cannon was powerful enough to force dummy targets back at distances of 30 to 40 metres. Forty meters is considered a safe distance for frontline police officers during riot control.

The front and lateral cannons mounted on each vehicle would also help with fire management and protect the vehicle.

Some radical protesters were seen hurling petrol bombs and resorting to arson at different locations. On Sunday, a police officer was hit by a petrol bomb thrown by a radical protester in Tsim Sha Tsui and suffered burns to his legs.

Police made it clear that water cannons constituted only one of the options officers had at their disposal while handling radical protests and that they would continue to use minimal force, depending on the situation.

Police also said that depending on the seriousness of the situation, police could add pepper liquid or colorant to the water tank.  

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Lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan said the vehicles would be helpful in the current situation. Water cannons can have a range of up to 40 meters, which allows demonstrators to keep a relatively safe distance from police and avoid physical confrontation, he said.

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