The U.S. military confirmed Tuesday that human remains were found inside the wheel well of a C-17 military plane that was swarmed by people at the Kabul airport seeking to escape the Taliban.
Officials confirmed that remains were found after the plane landed at the Udeid Air Base in Qatar. Video from Monday showed hundreds of people running onto the tarmac at the Kabul airport, with some clinging to the side of a U.S. military plane as it was attempting to take off.
Later videos appeared to show people falling off the plane as it gained altitude.
"Before the aircrew could offload the cargo, the aircraft was surrounded by hundreds of Afghan civilians who had breached the airport perimeter," Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Tuesday.
"Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible," she continued. "In addition to videos seen online and in press reports, 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."
The Air Force said "officials are doing due diligence to better understand how events unfolded and ensure the continued safety of current and future flight ops as we support the mission in Afghanistan."
Operations at the airport in Kabul were temporarily suspended on Monday due to the thousands of people flooding the airport's single runway in an attempt to escape Afghanistan.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Tuesday declined to comment on the reported casualties related to Afghans grabbing onto the plane, noting the Air Force would comment on it.
The Pentagon on Tuesday vowed to ramp up evacuation flights out of Afghanistan, with Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Joint Staff saying at a press briefing that 5,000 to 9,000 could be evacuated per day depending on what the Taliban allows in terms of commercial flights.
The U.S military reached an agreement with the Taliban on Monday in which the insurgent military group agreed not to interfere in evacuation operations.
“I want to reinforce that we are focused on the present mission to facilitate the safe evacuation of US citizens, [Special Immigrant Visa applicants] and Afghans at risk, to get these personnel out of Afghanistan as quickly and as safely as possible,” Taylor said.
“That mission has not changed. The mission is of historical significance, and it is incumbent upon us to be resolute in the protection of American and Afghan lives," he added.
According to Taylor, about 700 to 800 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the past 24 hours.
Updated: 4:04 p.m.