A body was found in the wheel well of a U.S. military plane hours after it left Kabul, Afghanistan, amid the chaos of desperate Afghans hoping to flee as the Taliban took power, the U.S. Air Force said Tuesday.
The Department of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations "is reviewing all available information regarding a C-17 aircraft that departed Hamid Karzai International Airport" on Monday, with scores of Afghans running alongside it and others actually holding on to the craft as it taxied.
"Faced with a rapidly deteriorating security situation around the aircraft, the C-17 crew decided to depart the airfield as quickly as possible," according to an Air Force statement.
"In addition to videos seen online and in press reports, human remains were discovered in the wheel well of the C-17 after it landed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar," the statement said. "The aircraft is currently impounded to provide time to collect the remains and inspect the aircraft before it is returned to flying status."
Investigators will also be looking into multiple news reports about "the loss of civilian lives" as fleeing Afghans allegedly fell to their deaths as they clung to that departing C-17, according to the Air Force.
While the Air Force didn't confirm any number of deaths, the branch all but conceded that lives were lost.
"OSI’s review will be thorough to ensure we obtain the facts regarding this tragic incident," the statement continued. "Our hearts go out to the families of the deceased."
Video of the plane's departure and surrounding bedlam have come to symbolize the hasty U.S. retreat and lightning-fast Taliban takeover of the country.
Two armed individuals "with hostile intent" were killed by U.S. forces at the airport Monday, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
The Defense Department spokesman acknowledged the troubling scenes of people running alongside the C-17 but stopped short of saying anyone died in that chaos.
"I don't have a firm number of additional casualties that we know of," Kirby told reporters. "I'm not in a position to give a specific number."