Five dead at Kabul airport as people desperate to leave Afghanistan climb planes

There has been chaos in Kabul as people desperately tried to flee (Picture: @Ashish_sinhaa/@Asbghostyeni4/Sultan Faizy)

Five people are thought to have died during chaotic attempts to board flights at Kabul airport and flee the Taliban.

The Taliban were reported to be taking ‘potshots’ at airplanes leaving the Afghan capital, but that is not thought to be the reason behind the deaths.

Pictures showed people clambering onto an elevated gateway to reach planes, with a number of casualties seen collapsed on the tarmac below – which Sky News linked to five deaths.

There was pandemonium on the civilian side of the airport, where hundreds crowded around non-military planes as the Taliban rapidly captured the capital.

The British Government has admitted it could take weeks to get everyone out, while locals made increasingly desperate attempts to flee the Islamist militants.

The President has fled Afghanistan, while US military helicopters have been whisking diplomats to the airport, where many are holed up in scenes compared to the evacuation of Saigon during the Vietnam War.

Sam Lerman, a US Air Force veteran struggling to find a way out for an Afghan contractor who had helped allied forces, branded the situation ‘murder by incompetence’.  

Afghans desperately try to board plane at Kabul airport to flee Afghanistan

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Afghans struggled to get onboard one of the last evacuation planes (Picture: Sultan Faizy)

Meanwhile, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged on Monday morning that the Taliban are in control of the country but ruled out returning troops.

He broke down on LBC as he admitted ‘some people won’t get back’.

Mr Wallace hinted it would take weeks to evacuate everyone the Government wants to help but appeared to suggest there could still be hope of getting ‘everyone’ out.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘If we can manage to keep the airport running in the way we are putting in place our people to deliver then I’m confident that by the end of the month we could get everyone out and actually hopefully sooner.

‘There will be some people left behind, we made that clear in the last few weeks, I’m not going to raise expectations.’

Large crowds flee to Kabul airport as Taliban declares 'war is over'

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People have been gathering on the tarmac at the airport

Afghans were crowding a part of the airport away from many of the evacuating Westerners, while armed Taliban guards were seen near the entrance to the airport.

Some of them, including a man with a broken leg sitting on the ground, lined up for what was expected to be a last flight out on the country’s Ariana Airlines.

US military officials later announced closing the airport to commercial flights, shutting one of the last avenues of escape for ordinary Afghans.

Tens of thousands of Afghans who have worked with Nato forces are thought to be seeking to flee with family members.

But it is far from certain that evacuations will continue to be possible with the Taliban now in full control.

There was gridlock in the Afghanistan capital on Sunday (Picture: Reuters)
Taliban guards were outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday as people walked to the airport to flee the country (Picture: EPA)

Back in the UK, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the first flight carrying British nationals and embassy staff from Kabul arrived at RAF Brize Norton overnight.

Mr Wallace said 370 people had been taken to safety on Saturday and Sunday, with the military side of the airport currently ‘secure and controlled’.

He added that plans are in place to evacuate a further 782 Afghans in the next 24 – 36 hours, but in a later interview said 1,500 people would be flying out.

Nato forces, who had pulled out their soldiers in recent weeks, have been rushing back to airlift their citizens to safety in recent days.

But many have criticised the west for failing to move fast enough to help Afghans who fear retribution from the Taliban for their past work.

People dashed to the runway, blocking the path of planes trying to leave
Tens of thousands of Afghans are thought to want to flee (Picture: AFP)
A German Air Force craft took off on Monday morning heading to Kabul (Picture: AP)

Massouma Tajik, a 22-year-old data analyst, was among hundreds waiting anxiously in the Kabul airport to board an evacuation flight.

‘I see people crying, they are not sure whether their flight will happen or not. Neither am I,’ she said.

Educated Afghan women have some of the most to lose under the fundamentalist Taliban, whose past government, overthrown by the US-led invasion in 2001, sought to largely confine women to the home.

The group have been accused of a string of atrocities and many fear the return of a brutal regime.

Taliban forces moved into the capital on Sunday as part of a stunning sweep of Afghanistan in just the past week, as many residents frantically fled and western governments expressed shock at the speed of the advance.

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But even as helicopters shuttled American diplomats to the airport, the US secretary of state Antony Blinken rejected comparisons to the 1975 fall of Saigon amid widespread criticism of the west’s handling of the situation.

Italian journalist Francesca Mannocchi described watching columns of smoke rising from Kabul as she flew to the airport in a helicopter with an armed soldier standing guard at the window.

Some were from fires that workers at the US Embassy and others were using to keep sensitive material from falling in Taliban hands.

She said Afghans had stoned an Italian convoy.

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