USAF Reviews Civilian Deaths Linked To C-17 Flight From Kabul
The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) is reviewing the circumstances of a Boeing C-17 takeoff in Afghanistan that resulted in several deaths of civilians who rushed the aircraft, an Air Force spokeswoman said Aug. 17.
Online videos showed several people falling from the C-17 on departure, and human remains were found in a wheel well after the transport landed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
“OSI is leading the review in coordination with the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command and international partners since it involves the loss of life on U.S. military aircraft,” an Air Force spokeswoman said.
The aircraft has been impounded pending an inspection and collection of the human remains.
The investigation will seek to inform the safety of future flights in the ongoing evacuation mission in Afghanistan, the spokeswoman said.
The C-17 landed at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 15 to deliver equipment related to the evacuation of Afghan and U.S. civilians after the Taliban seized control of the government.
“Before the aircrew could offload the cargo, the aircraft was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians who had breached the airport perimeter,” the spokeswoman said. “Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible.”
The sudden capture of Kabul by the Taliban and the country’s landlocked isolation has triggered a massive airlift operation involving dozens of C-17s and KC-135 tankers.
By Aug. 18, the Defense Department expects to be able to establish flights of military airlifters from Kabul on an hourly basis, delivering thousands of U.S. and Afghan civilians seeking refuge from the Taliban.
Other C-17 flights this week have carried thousands of civilians out of Kabul, including about 640 on one flight alone, crowded on the cargo floor of the widebody freighter.