Protesters trapped within the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong are plotting desperate ways to escape the police siege.
In footage recovered protesters removed metal manholes to explore sewage tunnels; many dressed with thick bandages wrapped around their knees in anticipation of a long crawl to freedom.
“The people outside can’t help us,” a protester told local television as he prepared to descend into a sewer. “So what can we do?” One protester, gas mask on, and cling film wrapped around his arms, carried a torch as he descended with his backpack down the metal rungs.
Desperation has stalked the protesters for three days since an occupation of the city centre campus turned into a police siege.
“We can get through today… I don’t know about tomorrow,” Fung, 43, a kitchen volunteer helping feed protesters in a campus canteen said on Monday,
So far the daring escape bids have been matched by their danger.
Earlier on Monday dozens of protesters in civilian clothes slid down several metres of rope onto a flyover, where a cavalcade of motorbikes conducted a smash and grab rescue mission.
Police said 37 of the escapees and bike drivers were arrested but many got away.
On Tuesday a group of around 20 protesters who had moved from the campus into a nearby commercial building overnight slipped away, after riot police left their post.
“It’s at most 10 years in jail if I am convicted of rioting,” said Issac, aged 17. “But it will be a whole life in a larger prison if I stop coming out.” Under-18s have also been escorted out by teachers.
Classroom furniture, bottles for petrol bombs, mats, bollards and bins are chaotically piled across the campus, whose walls are scarred by scorch marks from large fires.
A hardcore contingent remains, willing to defend the campus despite stark warnings by police that officers are ready to use lethal force if they come under attack.
“If I give up can I face those who have sacrificed?” a teary eyed exhausted and injured in one leg protester said.
“I don’t mind giving up my future so that others can step on our bodies and keep going forward.”