A massive overflow of protesters from an anti-extradition rally in Victoria Park left major roads completely paralyzed across Hong Kong Island on Sunday afternoon, as hundreds of thousands of people either trying to leave, or get to the protest inundated the streets from North Point to Central.
MTR had offered intermittent services on the Island Line throughout the afternoon, halting services at the busiest stations from time to time, as the system strained to cope with the sheer number of passengers.
By the evening, many streets were completely overtaken by protesters.
Traffic at the Cross Harbour Tunnel was temporarily halted as protesters spilled onto Gloucester Road, blocking road traffic. The chaos also prompted KMB to suspend cross-harbour bus services.
Many protesters say it took them hours to get to Victoria Park, which had completely filled up soon after the rally officially started at 2pm.
One man told RTHK he was forced to walk for over three hours from Central because none of the trains had been stopping at closer stations, and he finally arrived at around 5.30pm.
He blamed the police for banning any march from the park, and not arranging for any way for people to get to or leave the rally.
“It’s very confusing for the protesters, actually, because [the police] did not actually create a path for the protesters so we [faced a lot of confusion] to get to the destination,” he said.
A man surnamed Law who arrived at Victoria Park in the evening with his wife and two daughters, 5 and 7, said the journey from Diamond Hill had taken them six hours. He said they were forced to get off at the Causeway Bay MTR station because the railway had suspended services to Tin Hau and Fortress Hill.
"You know all the people went to the Causeway Bay station. Even when we got to [the station] we spent about two-and-a-half hours to get out of the station, and when we got to the street, they were crowded. We spent one or two more hours to find our way to [the park]", he said.
Other demonstrators like university student Jasper said he initially couldn’t even come close to getting to the park, because of the constant flood of people leaving the area. He said he had to follow the crowd all the way to Central before doubling back so he and his friends could be counted as being among the protesters for the rally.
Pro-democracy politicians had started leading people out of Victoria Park as early as 3pm in what they described as a ‘free-flowing rally’, to free up some space at the venue to allow more people to arrive.
But for hour after hour, the flow of protesters came from all directions, clogging up traffic.
Police had given the go-ahead for the rally at Victoria Park, but not for a planned march after that to Chater Garden in Central. Ultimately, many demonstrators did in fact march to Central, but not because they wanted to participate in an unauthorised rally, they said, but because they didn't have any other way to leave.
Last updated: 2019-08-18 HKT 19:54
Huge crowds clog roads from Central to North Point
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