Body Parts Found in Landing Gear of Flight From Kabul, Officials Say

Harrowing video of the chaos, recorded by Afghan media, have circulated around the world. The Air Force said the incident is under investigation.

By Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt

WASHINGTON — The Air Force acknowledged on Tuesday that human body parts were found in the wheel well of an American military C-17 cargo plane that took flight amid chaos at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

Air Force officials have not said how many people died in the episode on Monday, but said the service was investigating “the loss of civilian lives” as a crowd of Afghans, desperate to escape the country after their government collapsed to the Taliban, climbed onto the plane’s wings and fell from the sky after it took off.

Harrowing video of the episode, recorded by the Afghan news media, has circulated around the world, instantly making the horrific scene — of American military might flying away as Afghans hung on against all hope — a symbol of President Biden’s retreat from Afghanistan.

“We are all contending with a human cost to these developments,” Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said at a briefing on Tuesday.

“The images from the past couple of days at the airport have been heartbreaking,” said Mr. Sullivan, the first cabinet-level administration official to take questions from reporters since the Taliban took control of Kabul on Sunday.

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