Afghanistan: More than 600 fleeing Taliban crowd into US military plane

Shortly after the capture of Kabul by the Taliban , more than 600 Afghans – men, women and children – have crammed into a large US military plane, scene of a dramatic air evacuation , according to a photograph that went viral.

Posted by Defense One military news site , the image was taken inside a Boeing C transport plane – 20 of the US Air Force. The evacuation of the Afghans squeezed into the huge hold of the aircraft Sunday evening had been approved by the American authorities, according to the site. There were 600 Afghans on board, the US military said. “The Crew Made the Decision to Go:” Inside Reach 871, A US C – 17 Packed With 600 Afghans Trying to Escape the Taliban | @ TaraCopp and @ MarcusReports JH5Yrkwet4

– Defense One (@DefenseOne) August 17, 2021 “The crew made the decision to go” Such a high number passengers was not expected in a single flight, a senior US defense official told Defense One: many desperate people climbed inside at the last moment by the still half-open ramp at the back of the car. ‘plane. “The crew made the decision to go” rather than forcing them back down, the official explained.

This scene occurred as the fighters Taliban invaded the streets of Kabul and panicked residents rushed to the airport to try to find a flight abroad. “The unusually high number of passengers aboard this aircraft (…) was the result of a dynamic security environment that demanded quick decisions from the crew,” said Karen Roxberry, spokesperson for US Central, in a statement. Command, the US command center managing operations in the region. “In the end, this made it possible to evacuate these passengers safely from the country.”

Several planes Among the people visible in the photo is a baby holding a bottle in a woman’s lap. Several other people appear, with young children. Almost no physical possession is visible among the passengers, except for a small suitcase and a backpack in the foreground. The US military did not specify its destination.

The flight, which Defense One said had the call sign Reach 871, landed in Qatar early Monday morning, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. This C – 08 is not the only plane to have carried as many Afghans out of the country, and several planes left Kabul with similar figures, according to the official quoted by Defense One. This is also not the first time that the Boeing C – 08, a workhorse of the American army, carried out such a major evacuation. In 2013, a C – 17 American had shipped more than 670 people in the eastern Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

Chaos and Despair Kabul Airport has been the scene of scenes of chaos and despair Monday. The tarmac and runways were overrun with thousands of people hoping to board a flight out of the country. Many did not have clearances to take evacuation flights, nor tickets for commercial flights, or even visas. In grueling videos posted on social media, hundreds of people run next to a C – 08 accelerating, some gripping the sides of the plane.

Another video shows attack helicopters flying over the crowd at low altitude, in an apparent attempt to clear the runway for a plane. The Afghan media reported several deaths, fallen from planes to which they had clung during take-off. One person perished in the landing gear shaft of a C – 08 which took off from Kabul, said the American daily Washington Post and the Politico website