Afghanistan: Satellite images show scale of frantic Kabul airport evacuation

Traffic comes to a standstill as people converge on Kabul airport. Credit: @Maxar

Satellite images of Kabul's international airport on Monday show the extent of the chaos as Afghans and foreigners scrambled to escape the country after the Taliban seized control.

Pictures from satellite specialists Maxar show thousands of people converging on the tarmac, the road outside the airport seemingly gridlocked as many attempted to flee from the Taliban-controlled city.

Credit: @Maxar

Seven people were reported to have killed in the chaos Kabul airport on Monday. Social media images show Afghans seen clinging to the side of a US military plane taxiing down the runway. Bodies were seen falling from the aircraft after take-off.

Roughly 640 citizens managed to board the US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from Kabul to Qatar - far more than the aircraft would usually carry.A defence official told Defense One the plane was not intending to take on so many passengers but the panicked Afghans clambered on board the plane via its half-open ramp.

Several other flights also took off with hundreds more people on board, some with even larger numbers than 640, the official said.

Frantic Afghans run alongside and cling onto the side of a US military plane as it begins to take off from Kabul

This video contains distressing images

British troops were among nations racing against the clock to get remaining UK nationals and their local allies out of Afghanistan.

Lead elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade were working with US forces to secure Kabul airport to ensure flights can continue, as Afghans and foreigners alike scramble to leave. Around 4,000 British nationals and eligible Afghans are thought to be in the city and in need of evacuation.

People converge on the runway at Kabul airport Credit: @Maxar

The scenes of the chaotic evacuation at the airport was punctuated with sporadic gunfire as frightened Afghan families fearful of Taliban rule desperately sought flights out of the country.

The speed of the Taliban advance suggests that there may only be a short window of a few days to get people out and, while the airport has so far not come under attack, there are fears that could change quickly with Taliban insurgents now effectively in control of the capital.