The U.S. Air Force is investigating the lead-up to an incident earlier this week involving an American military aircraft that departed a Kabul airport with civilians hanging onto its landing gear who fell to their deaths.
A statement from the Air Force confirmed that human remains were discovered on the C-17 military plane, and it confirmed that the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) is reviewing all information and details about the incident.
“OSI’s review will be thorough to ensure we obtain the facts regarding this tragic incident,” said a statement from the Air Force, which was obtained by The Epoch Times. “Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased.”
Video footage and images of the incident showed a mob of people surrounding the plane as it was taxiing on the runway at Hamid Karzai International Airport after the Taliban took over Kabul. Some people appeared to cling onto the plane’s wheel, and other footage showed several individuals falling hundreds of feet to their deaths.
The footage of people falling to their deaths, which went viral on social media, has come to symbolize the haphazard and hasty U.S. retreat from Afghanistan as well as the rapid advances made by the Taliban. Several top White House officials, including President Joe Biden, admitted that the Taliban’s victory in such a short period of time caught them off-guard.
The Air Force’s statement acknowledged that the plane was surrounded by civilians who breached the airport’s security.
“Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible,” the Air Force said, adding that human remains were later found.
“In addition to videos seen online and in press reports, human remains were discovered in the wheel well of the C-17 after it landed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar,” the Air Force statement said. “The aircraft is currently impounded to provide time to collect the remains and inspect the aircraft before it is returned to flying status.”
Investigators will look into individuals who died after falling from the plane’s wheel. The Air Force did not confirm the number of people who died.
During the airport chaos, as throngs of people were scrambling to leave the South Asian country after the Taliban’s rapid advances, U.S. troops were forced to fire on several armed assailants, confirmed Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Monday.
“Alongside our joint force, interagency, and international partners, the U.S. Air Force remains laser-focused on maintaining security at [Kabul airport] to prevent a situation like this from happening again as we safely process Afghan civilians seeking to depart the country,” the Air Force said.