More than 5,000 protesters gathered at Hong Kong airport on Monday, police said, as authorities cancelled all the day's remaining flights in and out of the busy international transport hub.
"The information I got before we came in was that in the airport passenger terminal building there are over 5,000 protesters," said Kong Wing-cheung, senior superintendent of the police public relations branch, at a press conference.
Kong said airport authorities had allowed demonstrators to gather in the arrivals halls -- although the protest was not granted a permit from police -- but accused the activists of blocking departures.
"Some of the protesters had gone into the departures hall, causing some passengers to be unable to enter the restricted area to exercise their personal freedom, which is to board their flight," he said.
Flights cancelled at Hong Kong as protesters occupy airport
Pro-democracy activists staged three days of sit-ins at the airport from Friday, but the protests were significantly smaller than Monday's which followed a weekend of often violent confrontations between police and demonstrators across the city.
Police fired tear gas Sunday in confrontations with protesters in three parts of the Chinese territory, as another evening of clashes began playing out in the financial capital. Protesters hurled bricks at officers and ignored warnings to leave before tear gas was deployed in the Sham Shui Po area, police said, calling a march there an "unauthorised assembly".
Protesters wearing gas masks gathered outside a police station in Cheung Sha Wan as officers wearing protective gear looked down at them from a tall wall around the station. Tear gas was also deployed in central Hong Kong on both sides of Victoria Harbour, in the Tsim Sha Tsui area on the Kowloon side and in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island.