Videos show chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport as the Taliban retakes power in Afghanistan and thousands flee

Chaos and gridlock in Kabul, Afghanistan, as residents try to flee on August 15, 2021.
Chaos and gridlock in Kabul, Afghanistan, as residents try to flee on August 15, 2021.
  • The Taliban stormed Kabul early Sunday and are set to retake Afghanistan 20 years after being ousted.
  • Thousands of civilians attempted to flee the city, causing gridlock and chaos at the Kabul airport.
  • The US deployed helicopters to evacuate diplomats and staff from its embassy.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Videos captured chaotic scenes at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Sunday as thousands of people tried to flee the Afghan capital after the Taliban stormed the city.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and insurgents took control of the presidential palace, setting up the Taliban to retake control of Afghanistan 20 years after being removed by US-led forces.

As the US deployed helicopters to evacuate diplomats and staff from its embassy in Kabul, thousands of civilians descended on the airport in attempts to leave the country. Many civilians had already fled to the capital from other cities and towns in order to escape the Taliban's brutal military push through the country over the past week.

The US embassy warned Americans to avoid the Kabul airport after reports of gunfire and a situation that was quickly changing, The New York Times reported.

Witnesses told The Times they heard gunshots as thousands of people crowded into the civilian terminal in an attempt to catch a flight out of the country. Video shared on social media appeared to show panicked Afghans at the airport trying to flee while gunshots can be heard.

Another chaotic video showed a group of people scrambling to get into what appeared to be a US cargo plane as it was readying to take off.

People can be seen lifting up others onto the tarmac by their hands, rather than walking up a lower ramp or mobile staircase as is typical, raising questions about whether the aircraft was being swarmed beyond its passenger capacity as people desperately tried to evacuate.

Earlier in the day photos and video showed gridlock in Kabul as residents tried to flee.

In addition to airports, some Afghans rushed to banks to withdraw their life savings before the Taliban closed in.

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