Video of Afghans Scrambling to Board Plane to Escape Taliban Echoes Fall of Saigon

Hundreds of Afghanistan citizens have been scrambling to board a plane at Kabul's international airport following the Taliban's conquest of the city, in scenes compared to the fall of Saigon in April 1975.

A 24-second clip, uploaded to Twitter on Sunday, revealed the desperate situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport as desperate Afghans attempt to flee the country.

In the video, now seen online by more than 3 million people, Afghans climbed stairs to an airbridge as the Taliban pushed deeper into Kabul. As a throng pushes up the steps near the plane, several people were seen hanging off them.

BBC South Asia Buearex Chief Nicola Careem, posted the clip, writing: "This is, perhaps, one of the saddest images I've seen from #Afghanistan. A people who are desperate and abandoned. No aid agencies, no UN, no government. Nothing."

Indian journalist Sudhir Chaudhary, editor-in-chief of Zee News, also posted the clip, writing: "People are on their own now while the world watches in silence. Only sane advise to Afghan people...RUN"

This is, perhaps, one of the saddest images I've seen from #Afghanistan. A people who are desperate and abandoned. No aid agencies, no UN, no government. Nothing. pic.twitter.com/LCeDEOR3lR

— Nicola Careem (@NicolaCareem) August 16, 2021

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pushed back at earlier comparisons with the Saigon evacuation. "This is manifestly not Saigon," he declared on Sunday.

But comparisons were inevitable to the fall of Saigon, when desperate South Vietnamese citizens were pictured trying to scramble the walls of the American embassy to escape the North's advancing troops.

A photo from that period also showed a CIA officer helping evacuees board an Air America helicopter in the city, now officially known as Ho Chi Minh City. On Sunday, pictures again showed U.S. helicopters deployed to conduct rapid shuttle flights to evacuate the embassy.

Composite of Kabul and Saigon evacuation scenes.
Composite showing Afghanistan citizens trying to board a plane at Kabul airport on August 15, 2021, following the Taliban's conquest of Kabul (left), and South Vietnamese citizens try to scale the walls of the U.S. Embassy in a vain attempt to flee Saigon and advancing North Vietnamese troops in April 1975. Twitter / Getty Images
CIA employee helps Vietnamese evacuees flee Saigon.
A CIA employee helps Vietnamese evacuees onto an Air America helicopter from the top of 22 Gia Long Street, a half mile from the U.S. Embassy. Nik Wheeler/Corbi/Getty Images

Saad Mohseni, director of Moby Media Group, the largest media company in Afghanistan and headquartered in Kabul, called the Kabul airport scenes "Saigon on steroids."

"Chaotic scenes continue at Kabul Airport. Overnight people slept on the plane, ripped seats off etc etc," he wrote. "We are still seeing thousands of people on the tarmac. No flights can take off. Where the hell are the Americans (who had promised security)?? This is Saigon on steroids."

Chaotic scenes continue at Kabul Airport. Overnight people slept on the plane, ripped seats off etc etc. We are still seeing thousands of people on the tarmac. No flights can take off. Where the hell are the Americans (who had promised security)?? This is Saigon on steroids pic.twitter.com/XzMwM8ENxX

— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) August 16, 2021

His statements were echoed by retired U.S. Army Sergeant Samuel Williams, an Afghanistan veteran, who also called on President Joe Biden to step down.

"Looks worse the Saigon 1975! #BidenMustResign," tweeted Williams.

Looks worse the Saigon 1975! #BidenMustResign https://t.co/I93cNzuHwy

— Samuel Williams (@votesamuelwill1) August 16, 2021

Former Congressional candidate for California, Emmanuel Gonzalez, a Democrat, added: "Saw video of Kabul International Airport and it's our generation's very own version of Saigon. How sad."

The disaster in Afghanistan came just five weeks after President Joe Biden said he trusted the country's military to withstand the Taliban insurgency.

But, on Sunday, the Taliban entered the capital of Kabul and, according to the Associated Press, will soon announce the renaming of the country to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the presidential palace.

Their relentless advance happened shortly after the U.S. and its allies withdrew the majority of its combat forces last month.

The call to withdraw troops from Afghanistan was made by former President Donald Trump but was later carried out by President Biden.

President Biden appeared resolute with his decision to remove troops from the country and said in a statement published on the White House website on Saturday: "I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan — two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth."

The following day, it emerged Afganistan's President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country.

Afghanistan now faces an uncertain future with many international observers growing concerned the country could once again become a breeding ground for terrorists.

The President is to be commended for the clarity of purpose of his statement on Afghanistan and his action. The Taliban must know the world is watching its actions. We are concerned about reports regarding the Taliban’s brutal treatment of all Afghans, especially women and girls.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 15, 2021

In response to the concerns, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter on Sunday: The President is to be commended for the clarity of purpose of his statement on Afghanistan and his action. The Taliban must know the world is watching its actions. We are concerned about reports regarding the Taliban's brutal treatment of all Afghans, especially women and girls.

"The U.S., the international community and the Afghan government must do everything we can to protect women and girls from inhumane treatment by the Taliban. As we strive to assist them, we must recognize that their voices are important and respect their culture."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.