US Probing Deaths at Plane Takeoff in Kabul


This satellite photo from Maxar Technologies shows swarms of people on the tarmac at Kabul International Airport, also known as Hamid Karzai International Airport, Monday Aug. 16, 2021. (Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies via AP)

The U.S. Air Force says its Office of Special Investigations is reviewing an incident at the Kabul airport Monday in which multiple people were killed when hundreds of Afghan civilians desperate to leave the country swarmed a C-17 cargo plane as it was attempting to take off.

The Air Force did not say how many people died. It said human remains were found in the plane’s wheel well after it landed at al-Udeid Air Base in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Videos of the incident, including images of people falling from the aircraft as it took off, were widely viewed on social media. The images captured the initial chaos of a U.S.-directed evacuation that followed the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

The Air Force said the C-17 Globemaster III had landed at Kabul airport to deliver equipment for the evacuation effort. Before the crew could offload the cargo, the aircraft was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians who had breeched the security perimeter. Because the security situation was getting worse, the crew decided to take off.

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