The first German military plane to land in Kabul since the Taliban takeover has evacuated only seven people, the government said on Tuesday, due to chaos at the Afghan capital’s airport.
Germany, which had the second-largest military contingent in Afghanistan after the United States, said it was only able to take dual nationals who were at the airport.
Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the transport plane undertook a “breakneck landing” on Monday evening.
“We have a very chaotic, dangerous and complex situation at the airport,” she told broadcaster ARD. “We had very little time, so we only took on board people who were on-site.”
“Admission of people from the civilian part of the airport was not made possible by the partners exercising security responsibility at the airport,” she said.
Thousands of people are stranded at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as they attempt to flee the country amid the Taliban takeover.
Taliban checks at Kabul airport are making it more difficult to evacuate Afghans who worked for Western forces, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday as international forces scrambled to get people out of the country.
“The situation is much more dangerous (for Afghans) because there is no promise of being let through at the Taliban checkpoints,” Mr Maas said ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
US Army Major General William Taylor said that the speed of evacuations “will pick up” at the Kabul airport to about 5000 per day as 40,000 Americans remain stranded.
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The epic fail of the rescue mission has thrown further doubt over Australia’s mission to evacuate citizens and local staff from Afghanistan.
Australia is deploying 250 troops and several aircraft as part of a mission to rescue Australians, as well as Afghans who served alongside the ADF.
“We won’t be landing into Kabul in these circumstances,” Defence Minister Peter Dutton told Channel 9. “Obviously we’ve got a base close by which is safe and secure in the (United Arab Emirates) and that’s where we’ll stage from. But we’ll work with the Americans and others, including the Turks, etc, to make a very difficult, a tragic situation, as best as it can be.”
More than 130 Australians are believed to be in Afghanistan, and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government was seeking to support “several hundred more” local staff.
“The security issues, the lack of arrangements on the ground in Kabul make this very difficult for everyone,” Senator Payne told the ABC’s AM program. “But we will do our level best to make sure that we are able to support those Australian citizens and their families, the permanent residents and visa holders and applicants through this process.”
It comes a day after several desperate Afghanis died after clinging to the undercarriage of a plane and falling from the sky.
Germany is waiting for US permission to fly a second aircraft in from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which it is using as a hub.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said she was hopeful the Kabul airport could be kept open for several days so as many people as possible could be evacuated.
“Those are not only German citizens, they are also local staff, at-risk people. We will also support other countries,” she added.