Protesters prevent the doors of subway trains closing
HONG KONG: 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.
Some key roads were also blockaded, causing traffic gridlock, as the protesters urged a general strike across the city.
The largely leaderless protest movement uses social messaging apps to coordinate.
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 closed, including fashion outlets in the central commercial district like Topshop and Zara.
The protests were triggered by opposition against a planned law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
It quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reform and a halt to eroding freedoms.