Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warns against pushing the city into the 'abyss' as protesters force airport to cancel hundreds more flights

hong kong protestsProtest placards are placed around the flights information board as thousands of protesters stage a sit-in protest at the Hong Kong International Airport, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. One of the world's busiest airports canceled all flights after thousands of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters crowded into the main terminal Monday afternoon.AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Protesters occupied the arrival halls at Hong Kong International Airport once again Tuesday, defying warnings by  leader Carrie Lam, and filling the airport for a fifth consectutive day. 

Hundreds of demonstrators, some of whom camped in the airport overnight, gathered on Tuesday afternoon at one of the world's busiest airports, following massive protests a day prior which led to the cancellation of all flights in and out of the city.

According to South China Morning Post, more than 300 flights were cancelled on Tuesday as the airport struggled to reopen following Monday's disruptions. Phoebe Kong, a reporter for Deutsche Welle in Hong Kong reported that all flights out of the airport after 5:25 p.m. local time (5:15 a.m. ET) have been cancelled.

Airport shuttles were operating at slower intervals, according to the Post, and airport authorities urged passengers to take public transportation because parking lots were at capacity. 

According to Associated Press, protesters began funneling into the departure hall of the airport after filling up two arrival areas despite enhanced security measures.

On Monday, the airport was forced to cancel all flights going in and out of the city as protesters filled the busy transit hub.

Hong kong airport protestAnti-extradition bill protesters attend a mass demonstration after a woman was shot in the eye during a protest at Hong Kong International Airport, in Hong Kong, China August 12, 2019.REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Protesters piling into the airport were not deterred by statements made earlier in the day by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warning protesters against pushing the city "further into the abyss." 

"Hong Kong is seriously wounded," she said at a press conference on Tuesday morning. "It will take a long time to recover."

She appealed to protesters to "set aside differences" and prevent the city from descending into chaos. 

"Let's set aside differences and spend one minute to look at our city and our home. Could we bear to push it into an abyss where everything will perish?" 

Read more: Hostile protests in Hong Kong are unlikely to end anytime soon unless world leaders address Chinese interference, activists say 

Hundreds and thousands have gathered in the streets of Hong Kong for 10 weeks of escalating protests, a number of which have turned violent.

What initially started as a protest against a proposed bill that would allow for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China for trial has ballooned into fight to uphold democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

In recent weeks, Beijing has hardened its stance against protesters, saying on Monday afternoon that protests were showing "signs of terrorism" and promising to respond to them with an "iron fist." 

"This type of violent criminal activity must be resolutely combated according to the law, with no hesitation or mercy," Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council said on Monday.

China has also touted its ability to use military force in Hong Kong should the situation deteriorate further.

Chinese military vehicles gathered in Shenzhen on Monday, a city located just 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the adjacent Hong Kong border.

According to Chinese state tabloid Global Times, the armored vehicles were assembling in Shenzhen "in advance of apparent large-scale exercises." The vehicles belonged to the Chinese People's Armed Police Force, a paramilitary police force responsible for riot control and counter-terrorism. 

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