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US military aircraft crammed with 640 people fleeing Afghanistan

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 2:58 PM EDT
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(Gray News) - A stirring photo shows hundreds of men, women and children packed aboard a U.S. military plane as they fled Afghanistan amid the takeover by the Taliban.

The U.S. Air Force Twitter account shared the picture of them inside the aircraft, which took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Sunday. The post said nine C-17 Globemaster IIIs originally arrived in the Afghan capital to deliver equipment and approximately 1,000 troops.

Seven flights departed, transporting approximately 700-800 passengers, 165 of which were American citizens, the amended social media post said.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely transported approximately 640 Afghan citizens from...
A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely transported approximately 640 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 15, 2021.(U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

A U.S. official told Reuters that around 640 people were on the one flight bound for Qatar, a result of a security situation that “necessitated quick decision making by the crew, which ultimately ensured these passengers were quickly taken outside the country.”

Many climbed on the plane through a half-open ramp, Reuters said. Several kids can be seen in the photo, including one being cradled and bottle-fed near the front.

The C-17 is designed to seat only around 100 troops with their equipment, but it can haul a maximum payload capacity of 170,900 pounds, the Air Force says on its website.

A follow-up tweet noted the aircraft shown was not related to the crew that faced a security breach on the runway.

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