Soldiers at Kabul airport told CNN there were around 10,000 people treated but unable to leave

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The US military cargo plane, whose hold full of Afghans evacuating their country was captured in a now famous photo, carried more than 800 people on board – far more than what was initially confirmed by the Air Force, according to the crew who carried out the mission.

The crew of a U.S. military C-17 cargo plane transported 823 people out of Kabul on an August 15 evacuation flight, the crew said in an interview with CNN’s New Day Friday. The plane was previously believed to carry 640 people on board.

The photo of Afghans sitting shoulder to shoulder, crammed into the hold, went viral after it was posted by Defense One.

The massive number of people is a record aboard the US Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster III, a military aircraft that can be used to carry both cargo and passengers when needed, the carrier said. US Air Force word Hope Cronin. The C-17 has been in service for almost three decades.

“Our number of 640 was a bit underestimated, we actually flew 823,” said Technical Sergeant Justin Triola, one of the plane’s crew.

A radio transmission from the crew to air traffic control underscores how extraordinary the flight was. When the pilot informed air traffic control of the number of people on board, the response was “holy hell”.

When the aircraft is used to carry passengers, there are several configurations that the aircraft crew can use to carry different numbers of people, ranging from 10 to 336 people at a time.

It is always at the captain’s discretion to determine what he can carry at any given time, Cronin said.

“Although there is a range of standard configurations for C-17 passenger loads, this was a dynamic situation that required a dynamic solution,” said Cronin.

The previous record for people carried aboard a C-17 was 670 people carried by the US Air Force after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013.

Lt. Col. and commander of the C-17 plane Eric Kut, who authorized the mission to transport these people to safety, said they were “trained to handle this, to perform this plane to the max.”

The crew of the C-17 who transported the 823 people to safety include Kut, Triola, Airman 1st Class Nicolas Baron, Captain Cory Jackson, First Lieutenant Mark Lawson, Master Sgt Derek Laurent and the Senior Airman Richard Johnson.

“We have women, children and lives at stake, it’s not about capacity, or rules and regulations, but about training and guidelines that we were able to manage to make sure we could get out. safely and efficiently as many people and max perform these efforts, ”Kut said.

Triola said the people on the plane were “really looking forward to leaving the area, and we were happy to welcome them”.

“They were really excited once we got up in the air,” he added.

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