'ABSOLUTE SCREW-UP': Fury as near-empty plane leaves Kabul

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A photo of a near-empty plane leaving Kabul is causing widespread outrage as thousands of desperate Afghans and foreigners alike attempt to escape the Taliban.

Former Royal Marine Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing shared the stark image on his Twitter account showing rows and rows of empty seats inside a C-17 military plane bound for Norway.

His wife, Kaisa, had attempted to leave on a previous flight but was caught in a “stampede” outside the airport in Kabul.

Paul Farthing's wife took a photo of the inside of the almost empty C-17. Source: Twitter/PenFarthing

Mr Farthing was relieved when his wife was able to safely get on a flight home, but the scenes onboard the aircraft left him rattled.

“Kaisa is on her way home! BUT this aircraft is empty…scandalous as thousands wait outside #Kabul airport being crushed as they cannot get in. Sadly people will be left behind when this mission is over as we CANNOT get it right,” he wrote.

Mr Farthing, who runs an animal shelter in Kabul, remains behind in Afghanistan with 71 of his Afghan staff members and their families.

He has vowed to stay until all of them have found a way out of the country and away from the Taliban.

Speaking with Sky News, Mr Farthing said he took his wife, a pregnant employee and the employee's young son to the airport “very, very early” before it could get overwhelmed with people trying to leave.

People struggle to cross the boundary wall of Hamid Karzai International Airport to flee the country after rumors that foreign countries are evacuating people even without visas, after the Taliban over run of Kabul, Afghanistan, 16 August 2021.  (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
People attempt to cross the airport's boundary wall after rumors that foreign countries are evacuating people even without visas. Source: Getty

Others who tried to get to the airport later that morning “couldn’t get within one mile” of the airport, Mr Farthing said.

"We are going to leave people behind, that is an absolute given," he said.

“This is an absolute screw-up of an evacuation. We are going to be watching some absolutely horrific scenes.”

He is now worried about his future trips to the airport for his other staff members.

"At the back of my mind now is, if they do get a flight how am I going to get them to the airport?" he said.

Desperation to leave shown in horrific scenes from the airport

Chaotic scenes since the Taliban’s resurgence on Sunday show the terrifying lengths people are willing to go to flee the country.

In distressing videos posted on social media, hundreds of people crowd the tarmac while a US Air Force plane makes its way down the runway, with people jumping to try and hold on any way they can.

Another video shows what is believed to be a military plane taking off, tragically showing people falling to their death from the side of the aircraft.

The US Air Force confirmed human remains were found in the wheel well of one its C-17 planes that flew out of Kabul on Monday.

The Air Force did not say how many people died. It said the remains were found after the plane landed at al-Udeid Air Base in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Men cling to the side of a US airplane (left), while several people were seen falling from a plane after it had taken off. Source: Twitter

Photo of empty plane sparks outrage online

Mr Farthing's photo sparked heated reaction on Twitter in the hours after it was posted.

Viewers tagged media outlets and politicians, urging them to take action.

“Why is this plane leaving Kabul without passengers? Please for goodness sake, give us a good reason…why?!” one woman wrote.

“This is disgusting. It could have had you, your team and animals on being that empty!” another said

“Great news about Kaisa, but desperately sad the aircraft is empty,” a woman said.

“The empty flight is an awful sign that people just can't get there,” another Twitter user wrote.

Australians evacuated from Afghanistan

More than 160 Australians and Afghan visa holders have now been evacuated from Kabul after a third rescue flight departed chaos at the airport.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 60 citizens and Afghans who helped Australia during the war were transported to the United Arab Emirates overnight.

The first Australian flight from Dubai carrying 94 evacuees touched down in Perth in the early hours of Friday.

Mr Morrison said lifting people out of other parts of Afghanistan was not possible with operations limited to Kabul airport.

"The situation in Kabul does remain chaotic," he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

- with AAP

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