HONG KONG, Nov. 20 (Reuters / EP) –
Some anti-government protesters trapped at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong have attempted to flee through the sewer, where a student has said they have seen snakes, but firefighters have prevented them from fleeing by blocking a sewer that gave access to the system.
Just under a hundred students remain inside the university, surrounded 24 hours a day by riot police and barricades, after more than a thousand were arrested late Monday. Some surrendered while others were caught in their attempt to escape trying to reach the motorcycles they were waiting for.
Some protesters, wearing water boots and torches, have returned to campus after trying to leave the sewers, where the rapid rise in water also poses a risk, during the night. At the moment it is not clear if anyone has escaped this way.
The firemen, who the students have allowed to enter the campus, were stationed to try to avoid the escape, blocking the only feasible entrance to the sewer system in an underground parking.
“The sewer smelled very bad, with many cockroaches and many snakes. Taking a step was very expensive,” said Bowie, a 21-year-old student from the university who has been forced to back down.
“I had never thought that one day I would have to hide in a sewer or escape through one to survive … the most unforgettable feeling is the fear I had when I was inside,” he added.
She and her friends were in the dirty water for about an hour before finding out they couldn't escape. “When we reached the end, we found that we were still in college,” he said.
The Police have searched for possible night escapes with bulbs, without resorting to the use of tear gas and rubber bullets as in the disturbances recorded in the previous days. According to the Police, some 800 people left the campus peacefully at the end of Tuesday and will be investigated, including about 300 children under 18.
The leader of the Hong Kong Government, Carrie Lam, has called for a human end to the siege, in which the toughest clashes have been recorded since protests began in the former British colony more than five months ago.
“We hope this incident will have a peaceful end in the near future,” said the president of the Polytechnic, Teng Jin Guang, in statements to the press.
“If any protester is still worried about the process of leaving, I can assure you, because I have the guarantee of the Police, that if he leaves, I or one of my team members will wait for you outside … We will accompany you to the police station to ensure that the whole case is processed in a peaceful, fair and humane manner, “he added.
Police have tightened security in the streets surrounding the university, thereby allowing a visit at the last minute of Tuesday of the new head of the body, Chris Tang, on his first day at the post.