Hong Kong hospitals and airport hold drills

Hong Kong's hospitals and airport are holding drills to prepare for violent protests during next month's World Trade Organization meeting, officials said Thursday. Fourteen hospitals will test their emergency services and inter-hospital communications Thursday to ensure they are ready if chaos breaks out during planned demonstrations at the Dec. 13-18 WTO ministerial gathering, said a Hospital Authority spokeswoman who declined to be named citing official policy.

"We want to make sure that the computer system for emergency services will not break down if lots of people are injured, for example," she said. Hong Kong's hospitals were also postponing non-urgent operations to keep doctors, operating rooms and beds free.

Late Wednesday, the Hong Kong airport and police simulated a WTO protest, Airport Authority spokeswoman Chris Lam said. She declined to provide further details.

The Sing Tao Daily reported that the airport drill involved about 200 police officers who simulated a clash between radical protesters and riot police.

Past WTO meetings have sparked violent anti-globalization protests. Demonstrators battled police for several days at a 2003 summit in Cancun, Mexico, where about 50 demonstrators and police officers were injured and one man died after stabbing himself in protest. Riots also shattered downtown Seattle during a WTO meeting there in 1999, reports the AP. I.L.

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