The U.S. Air Force's Office of Special Investigations is reviewing an incident at the Kabul airport Monday in which multiple people were killed when hundreds of Afghan civilians desperate to leave the country swarmed a C-17 cargo plane as it was attempting to take off.
The Air Force did not say how many people died. It said human remains were found in the plane’s wheel well after it landed at al-Udeid Air Base in the Gulf state of Qatar.
Videos of the incident, including images of people falling from the aircraft as it took off, were widely viewed on social media. The images captured the initial chaos of a U.S.-directed evacuation that followed the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
The Air Force said the C-17 Globemaster III had landed at Kabul airport to deliver equipment for the evacuation effort. Before the crew could offload the cargo, the aircraft was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians who had breeched the security perimeter. Because the security situation was getting worse, the crew decided to take off.
Based on images and video taken during the chaos, the cargo plane appears to be based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, as previously reported by KING 5. The C-17 has the clear markings of 62nd Airlift Wing, and 446th Reserves based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The tail stripe is a solid green, which is indicative of McChord-based flight crews.
Neither the Pentagon or JBLM have commented about whether local flight crews were aboard the plane, how many locally based airmen or airwomen, or planes were part of the rescue mission.