At least two Afghans fell to their deaths on Monday after clinging to U.S. military aircraft rushing to evacuate thousands of Americans and Afghans from Kabul.
Al-Jazeera columnist Ali Hashem tweeted a video of an Air Force C-17 Globemaster taking off at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. In the video, what appear to be two small specks separate from the plane shortly after it took off.
“Unbelievable and tragic, two people who tied themselves to an airplane wheel falling from high as the aircraft takes off. Via @AsvakaNews #Afghanistan,” Hashem tweeted.
Two people can be seen falling from the side of the plane shortly after takeoff.
The falls could be seen from a video shot from another angle tweeted by Aśvaka News Agency, who said, “Exclusive- A clear video (from other angle) of men falling from C-17. They were Clinging to some parts of the plane that took off from Kabul airport today. #Talibans #Afghanistan #Afghanishtan”
In the second video, at least hundreds of people could be seen crowding the runway at the Kabul airport.
NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel tweeted another video, showing crowds of people trying to grab onto a military aircraft as it began to taxi.
“The desperation is complete. Afghans don’t want to be left behind as US evacuates,” Engel tweeted.
Aśvaka News Agency also tweeted “People taking the Dead-bodies of the same men who fell from a plane C-17 near #Kabul airport. #Afghanistan #Kabul #Taliban.”
U.S. officials told The Associated Press that at least seven people had died in the evacuation chaos as of Monday morning.
Both Fox News and CBS reported evacuation flights out of the Kabul airport were halted. A U.S. official said the runway is “not secure” after hundreds of Afghans “breached” the airport walls and ran onto the runway.
Another Twitter user tweeted, “#BREAKING: #USArmy soldiers from 10th Mountain Division are doing their best to keep people away from runway, taxiway & ramp of #Kabul Airport. Afghans who are not in the evacuation list are doing their best to flee #Afghanistan through grabbing landing gears of #USAF’s C-17As!”
U.S. troops shot and killed two armed men who breached the airport’s security on Monday. A U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal that the armed men approached U.S. troops before they were fatally shot.
On Sunday, U.S. troops finalized the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and took over air traffic control operations at the nearby Hamid Karzai International Airport in order to coordinate evacuation flights out of the country.
U.S. Marines reportedly fired warning shots late on Sunday night when hundreds of Afghans breached the airport perimeter and rushed to board a C-17 military transport aircraft. According to witnesses at the Kabul airport, U.S. troops fired warning shots in the air to disperse the crowds throughout Sunday night.
Two U.S. military helicopters also reportedly flew low passes, launched smoke grenades and fired shots into the air in an effort to disperse the crowds.