A US cargo plane ferrying refugees out of Afghanistan was so full, parents held their babies above their heads so they ‘wouldn’t be stepped on’

Hundreds of people sitting on the floor of a transport aircraft
Evacuees crowd the interior of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, carrying some 640 Afghans to Qatar from Kabul, Afghanistan August 15, 2021.

An Afghan photojournalist who was onboard a US Air Force cargo plane that helped hundreds of refugees flee the Taliban said the flight was so crowded that parents held their babies above their heads to protect them from being injured.

Ramin Rahman described his harrowing experience fleeing Afghanistan in an op-ed for The Guardian published on Wednesday.

"The flight was challenging," he wrote. "There were many babies on board, and parents were holding them above their heads to ensure they wouldn't be stepped on. There was no food, water, or breathing room for hours."

Rahman said he first went to the airport seeking help from a German embassy evacuation plane because he had been applying for a visa for the country.

But upon learning Germany would not evacuate until the next day, Rahman ran to a US military section on the tarmac and was rushed onto a plane.

He said the experience was "chaotic, uncomfortable, and stressful," as soldiers were pulling people from the front and back of the plane after the American pilots said too many people were on board the plane.

Rahman said he was eventually moved to the Air Force cargo plane, which remained on standby for an hour.

Despite being crowded, everyone clapped and cheered when the flight took off, Rahman said.

"There was a feeling of appreciation for the American pilot who took off," he said. "There was a general sentiment in the air that we probably would have died if that plane didn't come. We were that happy."

A defense official told Defense One earlier this week that about 640 people were on board the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft when it took off.

The aircraft flew from Kabul to Qatar, where it took refugees to a US military airport.

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