The situation in Afghanistan has quickly deteriorated in the last few days as even Kabul fell to the Taliban. In light of the Taliban’s advance on Kabul, the US had begun evacuating the US Embassy there. This was completed yesterday (except for some security contractors) culminating with the lowering of the American flag. As part of the evacuation effort, there was a C17 that took off earlier today with 800 people onboard, according to reports.
Evacuation Flight Out of Kabul Had 800 People – Report
The situation in Afghanistan is just so hard to follow as people are trying to flee for their lives as the country’s military has collapsed in front of the Taliban. People are desperate to try to escape and the airport had seemed like the best place to try. According to numerous reports, there were no security limits or anything that prevented thousands of people from filling active runways.
This is a reported recording of the audio between control and the flight where the controller could not believe the report of 800 people onboard.
In addition, there were reports that the Taliban had set up checkpoints outside of the area and were taking potshots at aircraft. There were commercial aircraft that had turned away from Afghanistan, including one out of Dubai, while others, like a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul, landed at Kabul.
Update: can confirm this is the correct number expected to be aboard… 800 souls outbound USAF C-17A RCH871 from Kabul, Afghanistan!
— Evergreen Intel (@vcdgf555) August 15, 2021
A C17A Globemaster would typically carry 134 seated soldiers but their capacity definitely could hold 800 passengers. Still, this could not have been an easy flight for either the crew or the passengers.
To complicate it, there were reports that the flight would be turned away from the air base in Qatar and sent to Kuwait if it had any more than just crew and cargo onboard.
An ACARS message just sent to a USAF C-17 Globemaster en route to #Afghanistan seems to suggest that if the plane returns with anything other than the crew and cargo they will be turned away from Al Udeid airbase in #Qatar and sent to #Kuwait. Is Qatar refusing refugee flights? pic.twitter.com/BkbIaqQiVj
— IntelWalrus (@IntelWalrus) August 16, 2021
Here are some of the videos from the airport as people tried to get out.
It is chaos at Kabul airport. Planes are taking off and landing and people are running across the runway. pic.twitter.com/kKrg667AQB
— Sowaibah Hanifie (@SowaibahH) August 16, 2021
Afghanistan’s tragedy right now in Kabul international airport: Afghan youth on the engine of American plane to leave the country. pic.twitter.com/CoTS8sq9c3
— Muslim Shirzad (@MuslimShirzad) August 16, 2021
This is such a devastating situation and I cannot even imagine the fear with all those that remain. I have many friends that had left Afghanistan over the past few years and still have so many of their friends and even family there now. It is just hard to even imagine how difficult all of this is for them.