PHOTOS have emerged of hundreds of desperate Afghans packing themselves into a US military cargo jet to escape the Taliban.
On Sunday, the Islamist militant organisation effectively took control of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops in the region as thousands of locals looked for a way out.
Men, women and children flooded the airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul in a desperate bid to board aircraft leaving the country, and hundreds were seen running alongside an American military plane as it taxied to the runway.
One particularly dramatic image shows around 640 refugees sitting side-by-side in the back of a C-17 cargo jet after it took off from Kabul on Sunday night.
Afghanistan: Pilot takeoff with 640 passengers fleeing the Taliban on a plane designed for 150 pic.twitter.com/VMiCYlFqqk
— Instablog9ja (@instablog9ja) August 17, 2021
The jet had been scrambled to take US embassy personnel out of Afghanistan, but hundreds of terrified civilians jumped onto the plane's cargo ramp before the flight crew could shut it.
It's understood that the pilot decided to take off with the 640 Afghans on board in order to save them from the Taliban, despite the fact that the jet is only designed to carry a maximum of 150 people.
The refugees have been taken to airbases in Texas and Wisconsin, according to the US Defense Department.
Eight people were killed at the airport between Sunday - when the Taliban arrived in the capital - and Monday afternoon. Two were shot by US troops, three were run over by taxiing jets, and three more are understood to have fallen from the aircraft after it took off.
Around 2,500 US troops have now been deployed to Kabul to secure the evacuation of thousands more who are desperate to leave the country and flee the Taliban.