WASHINGTON — New satellite images show a chaotic scene Monday at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan as the United States government and its allies worked to withdraw remaining personnel from the country.
With the capital falling under Taliban control on Sunday, Aug. 15, hundreds of people rushed to the airport in hopes of securing a flight out of Afghanistan. Civilians flooded the tarmac, with some reports of deaths as individuals clung to aircraft during takeoff.
New satellite images from commercial provider Maxar Technologies show crowds gathering at the airport at 10:36 a.m. local time on Aug. 16. According to the company, one image shows a Turkish airliner preparing to takeoff while security forces attempt to hold back crowds from the active tarmac, preventing them from blocking flight operations. Other images show traffic jams as people flee to the airport, as well as huge crowds gathered on and around the tarmac.
Imagery company Planet also released two satellite images of the scene in Kabul taken 45 minutes apart, which show crowds arriving at the airport.
The Pentagon acknowledged Monday afternoon that flights out of Kabul had been grounded, as the military worked to clear people from the airstrip.
“We’ve certainly seen all the dramatic video coming from the airport today and we obviously don’t want anyone else to get hurt,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “So we’re going to work methodically in coming hours to restore a safe and secure environment so that air operations can resume.”
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.