Afghan authorities have confirmed that 17-year-old youth footballer Zaki Anwari is deceased after he fell from a US aircraft leaving Kabul.
Anwari was one of thousands of people who desperately tried to flee the region by rushing to Kabul airport following the Taliban’s recent takeover. Footage shows thousands of people rushing the airport and many hanging on to a plane as it made its way down the runway. A few never let go and took off with it in the air.
At least two people fell to their deaths from the US C-17 military plane. Pentagon officials confirmed that two people had died falling from the plane, and that remains were found in the landing gear of the plane when it landed, according to The New York Times.
“With great regret and sadness, we obtained information that Zaki Anwari, one of the youth footballers of the national team, has lost his life in a horrible accident,” the statement said, as translated by CNN.
“[He was] endeavoring to leave the country like hundreds of other youth from his country. He has fallen down from the U.S. military plane and lost his life.”
The former captain of the Afghan women’s soccer team, Khalida Popal, urged players Thursday to delete social media and burn their jerseys and other team gear for their safety as she fears that the Taliban may retaliate.
“Today I’m calling them and telling them, take down their names, remove their identities, take down their photos for their safety. Even I’m telling them to burn down or get rid of your national team uniform,” she said, via Reuters.
“And that is painful for me, for someone as an activist who stood up and did everything possible to achieve and earn that identity as a women’s national team player. To earn that badge on the chest, to have the right to play and represent our country, how much we were proud.”
A family has told Vice World News that they believe the person seen falling from the C-17 in the viral footage was their 17-year-old son.
A relative said: “We are really upset that we’ve lost two… we’ve found the body of one of them, but the other one is still missing.
“Everyone is trying to run away. It is in fear of the Taliban, they are killing people. They have all left to go the airport… they want to go abroad.”