Survivors have spoken of their horror after twin blasts hit crowds of people awaiting evacuation outside Kabul’s airport on Thursday. Most witnesses have not been named for their own safety.
‘I saw doomsday’
One Afghan, who previously worked with an international development group and who holds a US visa, was among the thousands of people who had been waiting outside Kabul’s airport for hours when the explosion struck.
“It was as if someone pulled the ground from under my feet. For a moment I thought my eardrums were blasted and I lost my sense of hearing,” he told Reuters news agency.
“I saw bodies and body parts flying in the air like a tornado taking plastic bags… into the air. I saw bodies, body parts, elderly and injured men, women and children scattered in the blast site.
“It is not possible to see doomsday in this life, but today I saw doomsday, I witnessed it with my own eyes.”
Previously, he said, police and security forces would work to clear the scenes of attacks, but in the aftermath of Thursday’s bombing “there was no-one to handle the issue and move the bodies and the wounded to hospital or take them out of sight of the public”.
“Bodies and wounded were lying in the road and in the sewage canal. The little water flowing into it had turned into blood,” he recalled.
“Physically, I am OK… but I don’t think the mental wound and the shock I sustained from today’s blast will ever let me live a normal life.”
Other witnesses spoke of the chaos at the scene after the initial blast.
“When people heard the explosion, there was total panic,” a man named Milad, who had been waiting outside the airport with his wife and three children, told the AFP news agency.
“The Taliban then started firing in the air to disperse the crowd. I saw a man rushing with an injured baby in his hands.”
“I will never, ever want to go (to the airport) again. Death to America, its evacuation and visas,” he said.
‘I did my best to help her’
Another man, a former interpreter with US forces in Afghanistan, told CBS News how he tried to save an injured child, who was around five years old.
“I just saw a lot of people got hurt and people that were lying on the ground. I saw a baby there and I went to her and I picked her up and started taking her to the hospital.”
“I took her to the hospital, but she died on my hands,” he said. “That’s heart-breaking. What is going on right now is heart-breaking, this whole country has fallen apart.”
“I tried,” the interpreter continued. “I did my best to help her.”
‘Rarely have we seen such a situation’
Images shared on social media showed desperate survivors bringing the injured to safety using any means available, including wheelbarrows and taxis.
One man who helped others to a medical centre told Afghanistan’s Tolo news that many people had been thrown down to the ground or into the water by the force of the blast.
“We carried the wounded here on stretchers – and look, my clothes are completely bloodied.”