In a story that is simultaneously heartening and disheartening, 640 Afghans managed to evade security barriers and rush onboard the cargo hold of a U.S. military C-17 transport late Sunday. The group was allowed to stay onboard and evacuated to safety in Qatar.
640 Afghans Pictured Onboard C-17 Evacuation Flight From Kabul
The picture above tells us so much about the hopes and fears of so many Afghan people. The fact that eight people died yesterday trying to leave the country demonstrates just how serious moderate Afghans view the return of the Taliban.
The picture was anonymously provided by a U.S. Department of Defense official to Defense One.
Original estimates onboard pegged the number of “stowaways” at 800, but it was closer to 640. A U.S. Defense official noted that the crew made the decision to proceed with the refugees onboard, despite potential safety risks.
Although the C-17 is only designed to accommodate a fraction of the 640 passengers onboard, this evacuation flight did not even mark the highest passenger count on this jet. In 2013, a C-17 accommodated 670 people attempting to escape an oncoming typhoon in The Philippines.
An El Al Boeing 747-200 carried 1,088 people on a Boeing 747-200 from Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in May 1991 in a mission known as Operation Solomon. (the flight departed with 1,086 passengers but two babies were born in-flight).
You can listen to part of the air traffic control recording for the Reach 871 C-17 mission here:
Exact recording found here https://t.co/aPsylMRhS3
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) August 15, 2021
Historians documenting the fall of Kabul will have so many remarkable images to choose from, but the picture above stands out as a riveting image of hopes, dreams, fears, and the brutal reality of life in Afghanistan.
image: Defense One