Horrifying video has emerged purporting to show the body of an Afghan man crushed to death in the landing gear of a flight out of Kabul on Monday – as evacuations resumed today after troops regained control of the runway.
The footage – which appears to have been taken from a porthole in the rear door of a C-17 military plane – shows a man’s legs protruding from the wheel arch and failing against the side of the plane as it cuts through the air.
C-17 planes were evacuating US personnel from Kabul airport on Monday, and videos showed desperate Afghans clinging to the wheels in the exact position shown on the footage – though MailOnline has been unable to confirm that authenticity of, which first appeared on Afghan news sites, with witnesses.
It is just the latest sickening image to come out of the chaos in Kabul after at least three people plunged to their deaths from the side of an American C-17 transport that took off from the city’s airport on Monday in a desperate bid to escape the Taliban.
Pandemonium unfolded at the airport after thousands of Afghans stormed runways and attempted to force their way on board flights out of the country, temporarily halting evacuation missions which resumed early Tuesday after thousands of US troops helped clear the tarmac.
There are thought to be at least 40,000 people who need evacuating from the country – including 30,000 US diplomats, visa holders and Afghans they have promised sanctuary, 4,000 Britons and an unknown number of other westerners including French, Germans and Poles.
America is hoping to fly out some 5,000 people per day and the UK 1,200 – though both managed just a few hundred on Monday, meaning the operation is likely to drag on for weeks, if not months.
Politicians in both the UK and US have urged their government to be ‘generous’ with granting asylum to Afghans who helped in the war effort, but there are fears that thousands will be left behind amid the chaos.
The success of the operation now depends upon troops being able to keep the runway open, and on officials being able to locate all those who have been promised a ticket home and get them to the airport.
Some 6,000 American troops have now encircled the airport, using barbed wire and armoured vehicles to keep people off the runway, but so has the Taliban – which now controls 90 per cent of the country.
While Taliban diplomats have promised that the evacuation will be allowed to go ahead unhindered, it remains unclear if they will be willing to let their countrymen leave, having urged people at the airport to return home and promised an amnesty for government workers who go back to their jobs.
Early on Tuesday, French soldiers were pictured standing guard alongside a military plane evacuating diplomatic staff and their Afghan colleagues.
People were pictured forming orderly queues to board the aircraft, in stark contrast to the panicked and desperate scenes just hours earlier
Despite the airport runway being secured, witnesses reported gunshots coming from the area overnight. Streets elsewhere in Kabul appeared calm.
U.S. forces took charge of the airport, their only way to fly out of the country, on Sunday, as the militants were winding up a dramatic week of advances across the country with their takeover of the capital without a fight.
French troops are pictured guarding a military transport plane at Kabul airport in the early hours of Tuesday as evacuations resume after thousands of desperate locals were cleared off the runway
French troops help load their embassy staff, visa holders and other allies they have promised sanctuary to on to a military transport plane in the early hours of Tuesday
David Martinon (centre left), the French ambassador to Afghanistan, waits with French and Afghan nationals to board a French military transport plane at the airport in Kabul
French nationals and their Afghan colleagues line up to board a French military transport plane at the Kabul airport
A French national sleeps on the floor at Kabul airport early on Tuesday as he waits with other diplomatic staff to board a flight out of Kabul airport as evacuations resume
French and Afghan national sit amongst their luggage as they wait to board a flight out of Kabul – one of dozens that will shuttle tens of thousands of people out of the country in the coming weeks
French soldiers stand guard as French nationals and their Afghan colleagues wait to board a military transport plane at the airport in Kabul
Flights were suspended flights for much of Monday, when at least five people were killed, witnesses said, although it was unclear whether they had been shot or crushed in a stampede.
Media reported two people fell to their deaths from the underside of a U.S. military aircraft after it took off, crashing to their deaths on roofs of homes near the airport.
A U.S. official told Reuters U.S. troops had killed two gunmen who had appeared to have fired into the crowd at the airport.
Despite the scenes of panic and confusion in Kabul, U.S. President Joe Biden defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces after 20 years of war – the nation’s longest – that he described as costing more than $1 trillion.
But a video on Monday of hundreds of desperate Afghans trying to clamber onto a U.S. military plane as it was about to take-off could haunt the United States, just as a photograph in 1975 of people scrambling to get on a helicopter on the roof of a building in Saigon became emblematic of the humiliating withdrawal from Vietnam.
Biden insisted he had to decide between asking U.S. forces to fight endlessly in what he called Afghanistan’s civil war or follow through on an agreement to withdraw negotiated by his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump.
‘I stand squarely behind my decision,’ Biden said. ‘After 20 years I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces. That’s why we’re still there.’
Facing a barrage of criticism, from even his own diplomats, he blamed the Taliban’s takeover on Afghan political leaders who fled and its army’s unwillingness to fight.
The Taliban captured Afghanistan’s biggest cities in days rather than the months predicted by U.S. intelligence, in many cases after demoralised government forces surrendered despite years of training and equipping by the United States and others.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the hasty pullout of U.S. troops had a ‘serious negative impact, ‘ China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported, adding that Wang pledged to work with Washington to promote stability.
Blinken also spoke on Monday with counterparts in Pakistan, Russia, Britain, the European Union, Turkey and NATO about ensuring regional stability, the State Department said.
US soldiers worked through Monday evening to secure the airport runway which had been packed with thousands of Afghans fleeing the Taliban, forcing the crowds back before laying barbed wire
American armoured trucks and troops help to force back crowds at Kabul airport on Monday evening, after they blocked the runway and stopped evacuation flights from taking off
American troops lay barbed wire around the runway at Kabul airport so that military evacuation flights can resume
American troops stand guard as the sun sets at Kabul airport on Monday evening, having managed to secure the main runway from thousands of people fleeing the Taliban
Earlier on Monday, chaos had reigned at the airport as people rushed US transport planes trying to evacuate embassy staff – with three falling to their deaths after clinging to the outside of an aircraft as it took off (pictured)
U.S. Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson dismissed in a Twitter message what he called false reports that he had left the country, saying he and staff remained and were helping thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghans.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left the country on Sunday as the Islamist militants entered Kabul, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed.
The U.N. Security Council called for talks to create a new government in Afghanistan after Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned of ‘chilling’ curbs on human rights and violations against women and girls.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai said she was ‘deeply concerned’ and called for world leaders to take urgent action. She urged Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to open their country to refugees.
Former Afghan faction commander and prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said he would travel to Doha on Tuesday to meet a Taliban delegation, accompanied by former President Hamid Karzai and former foreign minister and peace envoy Abdullah Abdullah, Al Jazeera TV reported.
Many Afghans fear the Taliban will return to past harsh practices. During their 1996-2001 rule, women could not work and punishments such as public stoning, whipping and hanging were administered.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Dunya News that the group would improve the security of Kabul and ‘respect the rights of women and minorities as per Afghan norms and Islamic values’.
Shaheen added the new regime would ensure representation of all ethnicities and that the Taliban were keen to work with the international community to rebuild the country.
Shaheen said on Twitter that the group’s fighters were under strict orders not to harm anyone.
‘Life, property and honour of no one shall be harmed but must be protected by the mujahideen,’ he said.
Video shows hundreds of refugees running onto the C-17 on Sunday night before it took off. There are thousands of desperate Afghans still on the ground in Kabul