Flight leaves Afghanistan nearly empty despite desperate attempts to evacuate

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The Ministry of Defence has been working to get people out of Afghanistan for several days (Paul Crouch/PA)
The Ministry of Defence has been working to get people out of Afghanistan for several days (Paul Crouch/PA)

A flight from Kabul has taken off with barely any passengers onboard despite assurances from the West to evacuate the thousands desperate to escape the Taliban.

The repatriation plane, believed to be Norweigan, left Afghanistan carrying the wife of a former Royal Marine-turned-charity director in Kabul who posted an image of the almost empty aircraft.

Paul Farthing, known as Pen, said his wife Kaisa made it onto the aircraft but he warned people will be left behind.

The British expat wrote on Twitter: “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 San we cannot get it right.”

Ben Wallace has insisted no UK plane has left Kabul empty and Britain has been using “every space possible”.

The Defence Secretary rejected reports some flights left the Afghan capital with only a few passengers onboard and said the UK was “absolutely ploughing through the numbers”.

He told BBC breakfast “every hour counts” and confirmed the Taliban have still been allowing Britons to leave.

Some 900 British soldiers have been on patrol at Karzal International Airport with around 4,500 US troops in temporary control of the site as part of efforts to continue the evacuation process.

Mr Farthing told how his wife was able to enter the airport during “very early morning operations” before the crowds arrived.

“Right now her repatriation flight has left the country I am very relieved,” he told Talkradio.

He described a photograph from the plane showing a Norwegian soldier cradling a baby which was “handed over” and now “on its way to safety”.

“There is a Norwegian soldier and he is cradling this tiny child. Apparently is is a young baby that had no parents that was handed over. It is on its way to safety,” he said.

Mr Farthing has been battling to get all of his 25 staff from animal welfare charity Nowzad and their families out of the country as the Taliban complete their takeover.

The director, who has vowed not to leave the country until his staff and their dependants are safe, told SkyNews flights were taking off “regardless of whether they’re full or not”.

The government said departments across Whitehall “have been working intensively at all levels in the last few days and weeks“ on the situation in Afghanistan.

A spokesperson added: “Thanks to these efforts, we have relocated over 2,000 Afghans to the UK since June, evacuated over 400 British nationals and their families on RAF flights since Sunday and established one of the most generous asylum schemes in British history.”

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