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Crush At Kabul Airport Causes Chaos For Those Trying To Leave

Former Royal Marine says British soldiers "did their best" to help those caught in the stampede.

A former Royal Marine has said the situation at Kabul airport is the main obstacle in preventing him and his team from escaping Afghanistan. 

Paul 'Pen' Farthing, the founder of Kabul-based animal rescue charity Nowzad, has managed to charter a flight to bring his staff and animals back from Afghanistan. 

But speaking to Forces News about the situation on Saturday, he said it has been a "horrific day in Kabul".

"So many people died in a big human stampede," he said.

"Sadly, it was the British soldiers who were there, they did their best, absolutely did their best trying to get people out the stampede but people have lost their lives because of a situation that could have been avoided so easily…

"I'm just heartbroken for Afghanistan and this mess that keeps getting worse, day in day out."

Paul Farthing, known as 'Pen', has been battling all week to get his 25 staff, their families and more than 100 dogs and cats out of the country.

Thanks to charity donations, including a "wealthy investor in the United States", he is now hoping to take a chartered A340 Airbus plane back to the UK in the coming days. 

He's been adamant he would not take up any military assets to get home and said he had informed the UK Government he would have 130 spare seats available to take people back.

He has also had to contact DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to help make quarantine arrangements for the dogs and cats he'll be bringing with him. 

Pen said: "I can't thank people enough for what they are doing to help." 

His staff were not entitled to come to the UK under the current rules but he says "it's testament to the people of Britain, their compassion that they are now being processed." 

The veteran is now facing his sixth day without access to money via the banks after the International Monetary Fund stopped money coming into Afghanistan which means his staff are not getting paid and don't have money for food.

He said it's just "disaster upon a disaster."

Pen's wife Kaisa, left Afghanistan on Thursday on a Norwegian aircraft that was nearly empty despite thousands still waiting to leave the country. 

The charity has been inundated with requests for help from locals desperate to get out of the country, including one single mother who fears for her life under Taliban rule. 

Pen says: "What do you say to someone who is forced to live under the Taliban? I'll never forgive Joe Biden for this. 

"These are people's lives. There's nothing I can say. 

"As a former Royal Marine Commando you think you're hard as nails but I don't think I've ever cried as much as I have in the last week of being here.

"It's just heartbreaking what is happening to this country," he added.