While several people truly clung to the outside of a plane in an attempt to flee the Taliban in August 2021, one viral video purporting to document the incident is a digital creation.
On August 16, 2021, as Taliban forces took over the presidential palace in Kabul in the wake of the exit of U.S. forces, Afghan citizens attempted to flee the area by boarding a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III. While more than 600 people were able to board the plane, others never made it inside and clung to the plane’s wheels as it took off.
A video supposedly showing one of these people riding on the engine of the plane was widely circulated on social media:
— 𝐁𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐢 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐚𝐫 𝐉𝐞𝐧𝐚 🇮🇳 (@Bhabanisankar02) August 17, 2021
While several people truly did cling to the outside of the C-17 as it took off from Afghanistan (resulting in several deaths), this is not a genuine video taken during this incident.
BoomLive India found that this was a digital creation by TikTok user @huyquanhoa. The video was originally shared in August 2020 with the caption (translated via Google): “Experience VN E Lai’s recliner for the first time #huyquanhoa #maybay”
@huyquanhoa has created several other videos showing people doing unusual activities on the wings of a plane. In one video, for example, he’s playing a computer game. In another, he’s making dinner:
As mentioned above, while this video has nothing to do with the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, people truly did attempt to flee the area by clinging to the outside of the plane. Unfortunately, this resulted in a number of deaths.
NPR reports that the U.S. Air Force is currently investigating the incident:
The U.S. Air Force says its Office of Special Investigations is reviewing an incident at the Kabul airport Monday in which multiple people were killed when hundreds of Afghan civilians desperate to leave the country swarmed a C-17 cargo plane as it was attempting to take off.
The Air Force did not say how many people died. It said human remains were found in the plane’s wheel well after it landed at al-Udeid Air Base in the Gulf state of Qatar.
Videos of the incident, including images of people falling from the aircraft as it took off, were widely viewed on social media. The images captured the initial chaos of a U.S.-directed evacuation that followed the Taliban’s takeover of the country.