After being shut down for two days, Hong Kong International Airport re-opened on Wednesday after thousands of protesters blocked access to the main terminals. All told, five people were arrested and six were hospitalized, authorities said, following the scuffles with police.
Chinese officials condemned protesters as “terrorists” and insisted they had “broken the bottom line o the law, morality and humanity.”
“They committed serious violent crimes under public gaze, which is horrific and chilling. Their behaviors show extreme contempt for the rule of law,” said Xu Luying, a spokeswoman for China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.
Protesters took multiple people hostage whom they suspected of spying for the government. Early Wednesday, protesters detained and tied up a Chinese national who was later identified as a reporter for the Global Times, according to CNN.
Police warned protesters that illegal activities carried out at the airport could draw heavier penalties, including up to life imprisonment.
As flights resumed on Wednesday, airport workers scrambled to remove stains from the floors and graffiti from the walls. Airport staff started checking boarding passes and passports again at the entrance of the departures hall at 2 pm local time.
Timothy Wu, corporate communications assistant manager at the airport, told CNN that only the departures entrances would be monitored for now, only two of which (out of four) remain open.
The airport is one of the busiest transport hubs in Asia: It handles 1,100 passenger and cargo flights per day to around 200 destinations around the world. Authorities have obtained an injunction allowing them to restrain anyone who is “unlawfully and wilfully obstructing or interfering with the proper use of Hong Kong International Airport.”
Protesters have even started issuing apologies for the disruption caused at the airport, especially after some innocent travelers clashed with black-clad protesters. Most of these messages are anonymous.