November 2, 2001

HK Flights to US Cancelled, Consulate Shut

Hong Kong flights bound for the United States will be cancelled or diverted on Wednesday following deadly attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, but its financial markets will open.

The US consulate in Hong Kong was closed for the day for security reasons, but was expected to reopen for business on Thursday, said a consulate staff member.

Hong Kong cancelled all flights to the United States late on Tuesday after three planes commandeered by unknown hijackers slammed into the Pentagon and New York's landmark World Trade Center, demolishing the twin 110-storey towers in the worst attack on American soil since the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941.

Hong Kong's airport authority said six flights to the United States would be cancelled on Wednesday and one would be delayed. The status of four other flights had yet to be determined.

Hundreds of passengers, some of them Americans, were stranded at Hong Kong's airport on Wednesday morning.

Many milled around counters asking about their flights to the United States and some complained that Washington had overeacted by closing its airspace after the attacks.

In the territory, police were watching areas around the US consulate in the Central business district and security was tighter in some major commercial buildings.

Stephen Lam, spokesman for Hong Kong's Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, said police would take all measures to ensure public safety.

"Our colleagues will be discussing the impact of this incident on Hong Kong, and will assess its impact on the global economy," Lam told reporters.


The stock exchange will open and trade as normal on Wednesday except for seven Nasdaq stocks with local cross-listings and two index funds which were in line with suspensions elsewhere, said Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd.

But it added that it would "monitor the markets closely as higher volatility is expected and will take appropriate risk management measures".

Acting Financial Secretary Stephen Ip, however, gave a word of caution to stock market speculators.

"Everyone can see that in Europe, there have been steep falls... psychologically, people are afraid, and volatility will be great so I hope everyone will be cautious," Ip told reporters.

Chief Secretary Donald Tsang, who is on an official visit to the United States, was in Washington D.C. when the attacks took place but was unharmed. Tsang later issued a statement expressing his shock at the tragedy.

(Chinadaily.com.cn 09/12/2001)

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