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An Afghan family has identified their son as one of the people who died at Kabul’s international airport after falling from an evacuating U.S. military plane on Monday, according to a VICE News report. The son, whose real name was withheld, was only 17 years old.
The child, identified by the news outlet as Reza to protect his family, heard a rumor that the United States and Canada were going to take 20,000 people with them out of Kabul, his family told the news agency. So Reza and his younger brother, 16, left to the airport “without telling anyone” with the hope of fleeing the country — which was now under the control of the Taliban.
“Everyone is trying to run away,” an unnamed family member told Vice News for an article published Wednesday. “It is in fear of the Taliban, they are killing people. They have all left to the airport from lack of jobs and opportunity. They want to go abroad.”
Scenes from the airport earlier this week went viral on social media, and one in particular — a video of two blips falling from an airborne plane hundreds if not thousands of feet from the ground — showed Reza in the distance falling from the sky.
Seven people in total died during the airport evacuation, including an unspecified number of Afghans who fell from an airplane, according to U.S. authorities, reports The Associated Press. One person’s remains were found stuck in a plane’s landing gear, although it’s unclear whether that is the same plane from which Reza fell.
Afghanistan’s tragedy right now in Kabul international airport: Afghan youth on the engine of American plane to leave the country. pic.twitter.com/CoTS8sq9c3
— Muslim Shirzad (@MuslimShirzad) August 16, 2021
Exclusive- A clear video (from other angle) of men falling from C-17. They were Clinging to some parts of the plane that took off from Kabul airport today. #Talibans #Afghanistan #Afghanishtan pic.twitter.com/CMNW5ngqrK
— Aśvaka – آسواکا News Agency (@AsvakaNews) August 16, 2021
After Reza fell to his death, witnesses recovered his body and that of another person who fell from the same plane. His family, not knowing where Reza or his brother were, traveled to the airport after calling his cell phone and getting a response from a stranger who had found it at the airport.
The family identified Reza’s body after witnesses took it outside of the airport, reports VICE. “His legs and arms were gone. I brought him back myself,” said the family member.
His younger brother has not been found.
“We are really upset that we’ve lost two,” a family member told VICE. “We’ve found the body of one of them, but the other one is still missing.”