HONG KONG (Reuters) — On Wednesday, some anti-government demonstrators stuck in a Hong Kong college tried to flee through the sewers. Still, the fireman stopped further attempts by covering a steel maintenance hole into the process.
Reuters reporters said less than 100 demonstrators remained inside the University of Polytechnic,After more than 1,000 detained late Monday, the authorities ringed 24 hours a day with protests and barricades.
Several fled while others were trapped trying to escape, including trying to clamber down ropes to wait for motorcycles.
Since unsuccessfully monitoring the sewage, a number of protesters with waterproof boots and torches re-explosed in the campus and also the fast-rising water levels present a threat during the night.
Police said Wednesday six people were arrested-four people removing a maintenance hole cover outside the campus and two climbing out.
Firefighters, who were permitted to the campus by the students, were in place to stop any further efforts to escape, closing the only possible entrance into the sewer system in an underground car park on campus.
“With a lot of cockroaches, many rats, the sewer was very smelly. Each move was very, very difficult,” said Bowie, 21, a student who was forced to turn around at Hong Kong University.
“I never knew that one day to survive, I would have to hide in a sewer or flee by sewers … When I was alone, the most memorable sensation is terror.”
She said that for almost an hour, she and her friends were in the dirty water to discover that they were no closer to safety.
“We found that we were still in the poly when we reached the end,” she said.
During the night, police searched with spotlights for any escapees without resorting to the tear gas and rubber bullets that have dominated clashes in recent days.
Authorities said nearly 800 people left the campus late on Tuesday and would be questioned, including almost 300 people under the age of 18.
Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam has called for a civilized end to a blockade that has seen the most violent violence since more than five months ago, the demonstrations erupted.
Authorities said the school had no intention to strike.
“We are looking forward to a peaceful end to this event shortly,” university president Teng Jin-Huang told reporters.
Police tightened security in the areas around the school, keeping them safe enough at the end of his first day on the job for a late Tuesday visit by the new commissioner of the police, Chris Tang.
Tang is under pressure to rebuild the trust of police as well as public confidence in a department that has come in for increasingly violent tactics with widespread criticism. Police deny claims of excessive use of force.
Since June, police have made more than 5,000 arrests related to the protests.
In a written statement, Commerce Secretary Edward Yau said the number of criminal damage cases reported between June and September was up 29.6 percent over the same period last year. Arson cases have risen by 57.4%.
Tang encouraged all people to help the instability triggered by concerns that in 1997 Pekin was smothering the rights and popular independence of the former British colony.
Chinese leaders insist they are committed to the principle of democracy of “one nation, two systems” in Hong Kong and have accused foreign countries, including Britain and the United States, of causing trouble.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab denounced China’s prosecution of former British Hong Kong Consulate worker Simon Cheng, who said he was tortured by the secret police to seek information about the protest movement.
“The mistreatment he suffered while in prison in China, which amounts to torture, shocked and appalled us,” Raab said, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said that Cheng had been in detention for 15 days and had fully admitted his crimes. All of his legal rights have covered, said the spokesperson.
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act,” which would require the State Secretary to certify. Once a year that Hong Kong retains sufficient autonomy to qualify for special consideration of U.S. trading and impose sanctions on officials responsible for violations of rights.
The bill must reconcile to similar legislation that the House of Representatives has passed.
China summoned a U.S. embassy official over the policy in Beijing and requested that the U.S. stop interfering, the foreign ministry said.
The government of Hong Kong expressed “deep regret” about the proposal.
The turmoil was Chinese President Xi Jinping’s most public severe threat since he came to power in 2012.
After a weekend of violent fights, protesters on campus still have vast reserves of petrol bombs, bows and arrows, and other improvised weapons.
The University on the Kowloon Peninsula is the last of five to be used by demonstrators as bases from which to obstruct the city over the past ten days, closing out the main Cross-Harbor Tunnel and other arteries.
The golf tournament at the Hong Kong Open, set for Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, was postponed, the Asian Tour and the European Tour said.
Hong Kong-based staff of two divisions of Haitong Securities Chinese brokerage–Haitong Capital Investment and Haitong International–entered a road clean-up in a district of Kowloon, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Haitong Capital said it could go back afterward to workers who helped with the clean-up. The agency sold rubber gloves, one said.