Afghan who fell from plane at Kabul airport identified as dentist, 22

The man who fell to earth: Afghan who plunged to his death from wheel well of US evacuation plane in Kabul is named as 22-year-old married dentist

  • At least three people died falling from the underside of a US military transport plane as it took off from Kabul airport on August 16 
  • One has been identified as Fida Mohammad, a 22-year-old dentist from the city 
  • Fida married just last year, and his father fears he may have tried to board the plane in the hopes of getting a job to pay back a loan for the ceremony 
  • Another has been identified by local media as Safiullah Hotak, a doctor

One of the men who died falling from the underside of a US evacuation plane at Kabul airport has been identified as a 22-year-old dentist. 

Fida Mohammad was one of three people who died plunging from the C-17 plane on August 16 as thousands rushed the airport runway desperate to escape the Taliban. 

Father Painda confirmed his son’s death, saying he may have tried to flee the country in search of a job to pay off a loan he took out to pay for his wedding last year. 

Painda was the one who loaned him some of the $13,000 for the extravagant nuptials, and says he is now wracked with guilt over the thought that he may have inadvertently pressured his son into risking his life.

Fida Mohammad, 22, a dentist who owned a practice in Kabul and married last year, was one of three people who died falling from a US transport plane at Kabul airport

Father Painda (left) says he is wracked with guilt over the death, worrying that Fida was trying to escape the country to find a job and repay him a loan he took out for the wedding ceremony

Fida was one of three seen falling from the C-17 military transport – clinging to another man, Safiullah Hotak, as the pair plunged from the sky and landed on the roof of a house

Burying his head in his hands, Painda told AP that he spends hours imagining his son’s final minutes. 

It is thought that Fida was one of at least three people hiding in the wheel well of the military cargo plane as it took off that day.

Once in the air the pilot retracted the wheels, leaving those clinging on with only two choices – hold on and be crushed to death, or let go and fall. 

Painda said he fixates on the fear his son must have felt as the earth below him began to disappear and the wheels swung in, forcing him to let go.

He spends his time rewatching videos of Fida dancing at his wedding. Tears in his eyes, he told AP: ‘He was a gift from God and now God has taken him back.’ 

Fida’s body was later found on the roof of a home in Kabul, alongside the body of a second man identified locally as Safiullah Hotak, a doctor.

It is thought the two were clinging to each-other as they fell, explaining why they landed simultaneously.

Another body which has yet to be identified is thought to have fallen elsewhere in the city, while more human remains were then found in the wheel-well of the transport plane after it landed in Qatar.

The US has yet to confirm how many bodies were caught in the wheels, but disturbing video showed at least one pair of legs hanging from the side of a jet.

Abdullah Waiz is the owner of the house where Fida and Safiullah’s bodies were found, and told AP he was asleep at the time they landed.

He was woken by a ‘powerful’ noise and initially thought it was an explosion, before coming outside to find neighbours pointing up at the corner of his roof.

Waiz pointed AP to the spot – the concrete still stained with blood – and explained how he scooped the remains up on a cloth and carried them to a nearby mosque.

One body was identified as Fida because of a note with his father’s name and number that was stuffed into a pocket. 

Local media identified the other man as Safiullah. 

At least three others were crushed under the jet’s wheels before it took off from the airport, including a 19-year-old footballer who dreamed of making the national team.

He would spend hours watching his hero Lionel Messi play. ‘He couldn’t get enough. It was all he talked about, all he did,’ said his 20-year-old brother Zakir Anwari.

Zaki was too young to have known the Taliban’s harsh rule of the late 1990s. 

But as the militant force swept through the provinces, Zaki’s social media were flooded by rumors and horror stories purporting to tell of life under the Taliban.

Last time they ruled, the Taliban banned most sports, including soccer, and routinely rounded up young men at prayer times to force them to the mosque. 

Zaki was certain his dream of competing on the Afghan team was over.

Zaki went to the airport with an elder brother and a cousin on Aug. 16. He was meant to just watch the car while the cousin, who had worked for an American company, tried to get into the airport. 

Instead, while they were gone, he climbed over the airport boundary wall.

A breathless Zaki then called his other brother Zakir. He said he was inside the airport and was soon getting onto a plane. 

Zakir said he pleaded with his brother to not go, reminding him he didn’t have his passport or even his ID card with him and asking him, ‘What will you do in America?”

But his younger brother hung up, then called his mother. ‘Pray for me. I am going to America,’ Zaki said. She begged him, ‘Come home.’

Zaki was no longer listening. He raced alongside the aircraft as it picked up speed until suddenly he was knocked from the side and fell under the wheel and died, witnesses told the family later. 

The grim scenes at Kabul airport that day have come to epitomise Americas’ shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan and will likely prove one of – if not the – defining moments of Joe Biden’s presidency. 


Zaki Anwari, 19, was one of those crushed to death under the aircraft’s wheels while trying to escape Taliban rule, just a day after the Islamists retook Kabul

Aside from Afhgans who were crushed or fell from the plane, two others were also shot dead by US troops while trying to storm the airport compound.  

More than a month later, much remains unclear about what happened in that tragic takeoff, a day after the Taliban swept into Kabul.

Even how many were killed remains unknown. Videos show two dots falling from the airborne plane, several seconds apart. 

But two bodies landed on the same rooftop at the same time, suggesting they fell together, so the other figure in the videos could be at least one other person.

Also, the U.S. military has said it found human remains still in the wheel well of the C-17 when it landed in Qatar but did not specify how many people. 

The U.S. military says it has not completed its investigation into the day. It said the C-17 was bringing in supplies for the evacuation effort at the airport but was mobbed by Afghans on the tarmac as it landed. 

Fearing the plane would be overwhelmed, the crew decided to take off again without unloading the cargo. 

Videos taken by Afghans on the tarmac show hundreds running alongside it, and perhaps a dozen people sitting on top of the wheel well, though it is not known how many jumped off before the plane lifted off. 

For two weeks at the end of August as the United States and its allies wrapped up their presence in Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghans surged toward the Kabul airport, frantic to escape a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. 

A two-year-old child died in the stampede. An Islamic State group suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of the crowd, killing 170 Afghans and 13 US troops. 

Yet even after the explosion, thousands returned to the airport, hoping to make it inside and out of the country.

The scenes were so traumatic that the U.S. Air Force offered psychological counseling to the air force personnel who worked at Kabul airport, as well as the crew of the ill-fated C-17 flight after it landed at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. 

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