Overloaded but Wheels Up: Photo Shows 640 Afghans on a US Cargo Jet Designed to Carry 150 After They Ran on Before Soldiers Could Close Ramp and Hero Pilot Still Took Off From Kabul and Saved Them All

The first photos have emerged of crammed US cargo jets with hundreds of terrified Afghan refugees on board after they ran onto the aircraft before military personnel could close ramps on them on Sunday in their escape of the Taliban.

The US has so far flown at least two C-17 cargo jets out of Kabul and more flights are expected throughout Monday night and later this week despite chaos on the ground on Monday which involved eight people dying and flights being halted.

On Sunday, one of the first flights out was the US Air Force C-17 numbered RCH 871, which flew from Kabul to Qatar.

As it was preparing to take off on Sunday, hundreds of terrified Afghan nationals ran onto the plane, up the ramp, and settled on board.

A photo obtained by Defense One shows them all lined up, sitting on the floor of the plane that is fitted to carry 150 soldiers comfortably, but can take 171,000lbs of cargo.

Initially, audio from on board to an air traffic controller suggested there were 800 on board but Defense One says the true number was 640.

The refugees – including many women and young children – ran onto the plane’s half-open ramp before take-off and ‘the crew made the decision to go’, taking them with them, an unnamed defense official said.

‘Approximately 640 Afghan civilians disembarked the aircraft when it arrived at its destination,’ the official said.

Despite eight people dying at the airport on Monday and amid criticism the fall of the city is reminiscent of the fall of Saigon, President Biden defended his decision to withdraw US troops suddenly, saying he would no longer sacrifice American lives in an Afghan civil war.

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Source: By Jennifer Smith for Dailymail.com