It’s a scene that has come to represent the chaotic finish to America’s 20 years of warfare in Afghanistan: A lumbering U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft takes off from Kabul airport, chased by quite a few of determined Afghan males scrambling to get on the plane.

As the C-17 transporter choices altitude, shaky mobile phone video captures two tiny dots dropping from the aircraft. Footage from one totally different angle shows many inside the gang on the tarmac stopping of their tracks and pointing.

The full extent of the horror turns into obvious solely later. The dots, it seems, have been determined Afghans hidden contained in the wheel correctly. As the wheels folded into the physique of the aircraft, the stowaways confronted the selection of being crushed to dying or letting go and plunging to the underside.


More than a month later, fairly a bit stays unclear about what occurred in that tragic takeoff on Aug. 16, a day after the Taliban swept into Kabul, prompting a flood of Afghans trying to flee the nation.

Even what number of have been killed stays unknown. Videos present two dots falling from the airborne aircraft, a whole lot of seconds aside. But two our our our bodies landed on the equal rooftop on the identical time, suggesting they fell collectively, so the opposite resolve seen falling contained in the movement footage might very successfully be a minimal of 1 completely totally different specific individual. Also, the U.S. navy has acknowledged it discovered human stays nonetheless contained in the wheel correctly of the C-17 when it landed in Qatar nonetheless didn’t specify how many people. At least one specific individual, a youthful soccer participant, died on the tarmac, crushed beneath the C-17’s wheels.

The U.S. navy says it has not achieved its investigation into the day. It acknowledged the C-17 was bringing in provides for the evacuation effort on the airport nonetheless was mobbed by Afghans on the tarmac because of it landed. Fearing the aircraft could be overwhelmed, the crew determined to take off as quickly as additional with out unloading the cargo. Videos taken by Afghans on the tarmac present quite a few working alongside it, and presumably a dozen folks sitting on prime of the wheel correctly, although it isn’t acknowledged what number of jumped off earlier than the aircraft lifted off.

Afghan girls look up and listen as a neighbour describes when two men fell from a U.S. Air Force C-17 taking off from Kabul’s International Airport on Aug. 16 and landed on the rooftop of his house in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Afghan girls look for and hear as a neighbour describes when two males fell from a U.S. Air Force C-17 taking off from Kabul’s International Airport on Aug. 16 and landed on the rooftop of his home in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

One of these tucked into the wheel correctly was Fida Mohammad, a 24-year-old dentist.

He had as rapidly as been stuffed with hope, his household acknowledged. He had married final yr in an extravagant ceremony that worth his household $13,000. His dream of opening a dental clinic in Kabul had flip proper right into a actuality.

Then the Taliban seized Kabul, and all the probabilities for his future appeared to fade, his father Painda Mohammed urged The Associated Press.

The older man nonetheless struggles to know what his son was pondering when he climbed into the wheel correctly. He’s wracked with guilt, fearing that Fida took such an infinite hazard due to he wished to assist repay the massive mortgage his father took out for the marriage.

Burying his head in his palms, Painda says he spends hours imagining his son’s remaining minutes, the precedence he should have felt because of the earth beneath him started to fade and the wheels swung in, realizing he had no numerous nonetheless to let go.

On the underside, Abdullah Waiz was asleep in his residence on the time and was wakened by a sturdy noise. His first thought was an explosion. He rushed outside. His neighbors gestured within the course of his roof and urged him of the our our our bodies tumbling from the sky.


Two our our our bodies hit throughout the equal nook of his roof, Waiz acknowledged, pointing on the spot, the place the concrete was nonetheless stained with blood. Waiz believes they have been holding palms since they fell throughout the equal location. He collected the stays on a fabric and carried it to a close-by mosque, he acknowledged.

“For 48 hours after that, I couldn’t sleep or eat,” he acknowledged.

They acknowledged one physique as Fida, as he had stuffed his father’s title and quantity in his pocket. Local media acknowledged the second physique was acknowledged as a youthful man named Safiullah Hotak.

For two weeks on the tip of August because of the United States and its allies wrapped up their presence in Afghanistan, tens of 1000’s of Afghans surged within the course of the Kabul airport, frantic to flee a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. A 2-year-old teen died contained in the stampede. An Islamic State group suicide bomber blew himself up throughout the midst of the gang, killing 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. navy personnel. Yet even after the explosion, 1000’s returned to the airport, hoping to make it inside.

The scenes have been so traumatic that the U.S. Air Force equipped psychological counseling to the air stress personnel who labored at Kabul airport, alongside with the crew of the ill-fated C-17 flight after it landed at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Another sufferer on Aug. 16 was 17-year-old Zaki Anwari, a rising star on Afghanistan’s nationwide soccer crew. He would spend hours watching his hero Lionel Messi play. “He couldn’t get enough. It was all he talked about, all he did,” acknowledged his 20-year-old brother Zakir Anwari.

Zaki was too youthful to have acknowledged the Taliban’s harsh rule of the late Nineteen Nineties. But because of the militant stress swept by the use of the provinces, Zaki’s social media have been flooded by rumors and horror tales purporting to inform of life beneath the Taliban.


Last time they dominated, the Taliban banned most sports activities actions, collectively with soccer, and routinely rounded up youthful males at prayer occasions to emphasize them to the mosque. Zaki was sure his dream of competing internationally on the Afghan crew was over.

Zaki went to the airport with an elder brother and a cousin on Aug. 16. He was meant to simply watch the automotive whereas the cousin, who had labored for an American company, tried to get into the airport. Instead, whereas they have been gone, he climbed over the airport boundary wall.

A breathless Zaki then usually known as his completely totally different brother Zakir. He acknowledged he was contained throughout the airport and was quickly getting onto a aircraft. Zakir acknowledged he pleaded with his brother to not go, reminding him he didn’t have his passport and even his ID card with him and asking him, “What will you do in America?’”

But his youthful brother hung up, then usually known as his mom. “Pray for me. I am going to America,” Zaki acknowledged. She begged him, “Come home.”

Zaki was now not listening. He raced alongside the plane because of it picked up velocity till instantly he was knocked from the facet and fell beneath the wheel and died, witnesses urged the household later.

Painda Mohammad, the youthful dentist’s father, watches repeatedly movement footage on his cellphone exhibiting his son dancing at his marriage ceremony ceremony.

Through his tears, he acknowledged, “He was a gift from God and now God has taken him back.”

Associated Press creator Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.