Planes leaving Afghanistan 'empty' says British veteran as wife flown to safety

Mr Farthing said the plane his wife was evacuated on was empty. Credit: Twitter/@PenFarthing

Former Royal Marine turned animal charity director, Paul 'Pen' Farthing, who is still in Afghanistan, has blasted the evacuation mission from the country as "scandalous" as he shared an image of an apparently "empty" plane.

Mr Farthing, from Plymouth, posted an image on Twitter reportedly taken from inside a plane his wife was on as she was evacuated from the country.

It showed rows of empty seats.

Recent scenes from the airport in Kabul have shown desperate Afghans clinging to the wheels of planes taking off, and queueing for hours to get into the airport - only to be turned away by the Taliban.

Mr Farthing wrote: “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".

Mr Farthing had been trying to organise his wife’s escape from the now-Taliban-controlled country on Tuesday, after the militant group seized control of the capital Kabul, but said she became “crushed” in the uncontrolled crowd amid chaotic scenes of thousands trying to flee from the airport.

Footage from Kabul airport shows distressing scenes of people desperate to flee

The founder of the Nowzad animal charity has been fighting to get all of his 25 staff and their families out of the country, saying he will not leave until they are all safely evacuated.

But after desperate pleas for help from him to the British government, Mr Farthing said he has had no communication from the Foreign Office or Ministry of Defence since the Afghan government collapsed.

Armed Forces minister James Heappey said no RAF planes had left Afghanistan empty, but some had not been "completely full".

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "No Royal Air Force plane has left empty, but not all of our flights have been completely full.

"The reason for that is landing and take off slots at Kabul airport are at a premium, so too is space on the ground and so the way we are generating volume is by having nine aircraft flying in in constant rotation."

It comes just hours after defence secretary, Ben Wallace assured that the UK has not sent a single plane home from Afghanistan empty.

Responding to reports that evacuation flights to other countries had left Kabul with only a handful of people on board, Mr Wallace told Times Radio: “Our people are getting through, we haven’t sent a single empty plane home."

Desperate scenes from Afghanistan showed thousands descending on the airport in Kabul in an attempt to escape the country, with some videos showing babies and children being handed to soldiers from over the wall in a bid by their families to get them to safety.

On the first few days of the chaos in Kabul's airport, videos showed hundreds of Afghans clinging onto moving planes in a last bid to flee the country.

Reports said some had fallen from the planes to their deaths, and human remains were found in a US plane's wheel when it landed in Qatar.

Video appears to show baby being passed towards the gate of Kabul Airport in desperate scenes as people try to get themselves and their loved ones out of the country

The UK has encouraged its allies to “match” the country’s commitments and “work with us to offer a lifeline to Afghanistan’s most vulnerable people”.

But the government's promise to take 20,000 refugees (and only up to 5,000 this year) has been slammed as inadequate.

Ministers have also come under pressure after it was revealed Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab delayed getting help for Afghan interpreters who had supported British troops because he was on holiday in Crete and unable to make a phone call.

It has since emerged that a call to speed up the evacuation of Afghan interpreters before the Afghan government collapsed, never took place.

Labour is calling on Mr Raab to resign.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also said to have also been away in Somerset in the key hours during which the Taliban descended on the capital Kabul.