'Scandalous' picture shows empty evacuation flight as thousands wait at Kabul airport

20 August 2021, 06:17 | Updated: 20 August 2021, 08:05

The evacuation flight from Kabul was near-empty.
The evacuation flight from Kabul was near-empty. Picture: @PenFarthing/Twitter

By Emma Soteriou

A "scandalous" image has shown an empty evacuation flight from Kabul, while thousands of Afghans await their chance to flee the country.

A former Royal Marine turned charity director in Afghanistan warned that people would be "left behind" in the caption of the image shared on Twitter.

Paul Farthing, known as "Pen", has been battling to get all of his 25 staff from animal welfare charity Nowzad and their families out of the country as the Taliban completed their takeover.

He confirmed on Thursday night that his wife, Kaisa, had finally made it on an evacuation flight out of Kabul but was horrified to find the aircraft was mostly empty.

Earlier in the week, chaos had broken out at the airport as Afghans tried to escape the country.

Read more: 'Grim' desperate and sad' scenes as mothers throw babies over fence at Kabul airport

Read more: Afghanistan: 12 people killed at Kabul airport as crowds try to flee Taliban rule

"Going at night obviously has its own hazards - it was the choice of two evils and thankfully it paid off," Mr Farthing told Sky News.

They had taken the risk to avoid the crowds of "at least a couple of thousand" that descend upon the airport each day.

Mr Farthing vowed to not leave the country until his staff and their dependants were safe, but said flights were taking off "regardless of whether they're full or not".

The former Royal Marine previously told the PA news agency he had no communication from the Foreign Office or Ministry of Defence since the Afghan government collapsed.

Only his wife and a heavily pregnant member of staff made it into the airfield.

A government spokesperson said: "Departments across Whitehall have been working intensively at all levels in the last few days and weeks on the situation in Afghanistan.

"Thanks to these efforts, we have relocated over 2,000 Afghans to the UK since June, evacuated over 400 British nationals and their families on RAF flights since Sunday and established one of the most generous asylum schemes in British history."