By Stephane Nietschke and Andy Kranz
FRANKFURT – A British businessman described how he was in tears when the German military helped him escape Kabul after a harrowing few days stranded at the airport with the Taliban on one side, U.S. troops on the other and looters marauding through the terminal.
Soon after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on Sunday, the businessman, who declined to be named for security reasons, fled to the airport despite gridlocked streets, where he filmed video on his phone showing tanks standing still in queues behind cars.
He was told to go to the part of the terminal where U.S. and German troops were.
“It took me a good few hours to get myself close to the gate and shout out that I am British and please get me out of here,” he said soon after his arrival at Frankfurt airport in Germany.
“There was chaos and they had guns, they were shooting,” he said. “Tear gas was just flying all around and then one of them just got me inside and I was in tears, honestly!”
However, the situation was almost as chaotic inside the terminal as within hours there as a panic with people saying the Taliban had taken over the airport and were going to come in.
All airport staff, from pilots to cleaners, left the terminal, leaving hundreds of people, from Britain, Germany, the United States and other countries as well as Afghans stranded, he said.
“We were there for a couple of nights without food and water and a night after that ordinary people started coming into the airport,” said the businessman.
Video he filmed inside the terminal showed a group of young men struggling over a vending machine, eventually breaking it and making off with cans while waiting passengers were slumped in chairs.
“They looted the airport and the terminal, they broke everything that was in there: computers, the canteens and we were scared. We were not allowed to go out because Taliban was there and on this side it was the American troops. So we were like, what are we going to do? Just stay here!” he said.
At last, the man boarded a Bundeswehr flight to Tashkent before arriving in Frankfurt on an Uzbekistan Airways flight on Thursday.
“I am very thankful to the German air force and German troops. They were doing a tremendous job at the airport, honestly! Salute to them!” he said before making his way out into a windy German afternoon.