Pictured: Afghan football player, 19, who died trying to cling to landing gear of US evacuation flight in desperate attempt to escape the Taliban
- Zaki Anwari’s remains were discovered in the wheel well of a US C-17 jet when it arrived in Qatar on Monday
- He was among several people who died after clinging to the jet as it took off from Kabul airport
- Harrowing video showed bodies tumbling to the ground as the hulking military jet climbed into the sky
- The promising young footballer was among thousands who rushed to the airport to escape the Taliban
- In a final Facebook post he wrote: ‘You’re the painter of your life. Don’t give the paint brush to anyone else!’
- Mr Anwari attended the Esteghlal High School, in Kabul, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country
- The beloved teen’s ‘unspeakable loss’ was mourned by his peers and coaches on social media today
A former Afghan national youth team footballer died when he became trapped in the landing gear of a US evacuation flight in a desperate attempt to flee the Taliban, it emerged today.
The remains of Zaki Anwari, 19, were discovered in the wheel well of a US C-17 transport aircraft when it arrived in Qatar after taking off from Kabul with despairing Afghans clinging to the fuselage on Monday.
The athlete is believed to be among several people who died after clambering onto the jet as it took off, with harrowing video showing bodies tumbling to the ground as the plane climbed into the sky.
The United States Air Force later said in a statement that the pilots decided to proceed with takeoff because of the ‘rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft.’
The horrifying scenes of young men sat on a fin below the plane’s turbine as it barreled down the runway, only to then fall hundreds of feet to their deaths, will likely become the defining image of Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Mr Anwari’s death was confirmed by the General Directorate of Physical Education & Sports of Afghanistan, Arian News reported on Thursday.
The promising footballer had rushed to the airport hours after Kabul fell to the Taliban, joining thousands of others in pouring onto the runway and then chasing after the USAF jet despite warning shots ringing out.
In his last Facebook post, the talented young player said: ‘You’re the painter of your life. Don’t give the paint brush to anyone else!’
Zaki Anwari, 19, had played for the Afghan national youth football team
Dozens of young Afghan men were seen clambering onto the USAF jet as it took off from Kabul on Monday in scenes of utter despair and chaos. Mr Anwari’s remains where discovered in the wheel well when it landed in Qatar
The 19-year-old is believed to be among several people who died after clinging to the jet as it took off on Monday
At least three bodies were seen falling from the USAF jet as it climbed into the air on Monday
People chasing after a USAF C-17 cargo jet at Kabul airport on Monday, when thousands poured onto the runway for a chance to flee the Taliban
He lived in Kabul and had attended the Franco-Afghan Esteghlal High School, one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the country.
Mr Anwari was called up to the national youth team as a 16-year-old and was beloved by both his peers and coaches.
In a social media post, one friend wrote: ‘Brother, with whom I had the most unforgettable memories, his unspeakable loss fills me with sadness.’
Afghanistan’s assistant manager Ali Askar Lali said: ‘May his soul rest in peace and his memory be remembered.’
The United States Air Force on Tuesday confirmed that it was opening an investigation into the takeoff that saw Mr Anwari and several others clinging to the plane’s exterior as it ascended.
Footage showed people sitting on fin below one of the plane’s turbines while others darted underneath the nose of the plane and in front of its wheels.
‘The aircraft was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians who had breached the airport perimeter,’ USAF said in a statement.
‘Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible. Human remains were discovered in the wheel well of the C-17 after it landed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
‘The aircraft is currently impounded to provide time to collect the remains and inspect the aircraft before it is returned to flying status.’
Up to eight people were killed amid chaotic scenes at the airport on Monday, with several civilians plummeting hundreds of feet to their death as they failed to cling to the plane.
Evacuations were paused as American and allied soldiers attempted to secure the airport perimeter, before resuming 90 minutes later.