The "empty" flight that Paul 'Pen' Farthing's wife travelled on

Ex-Marine's Wife Evacuated On 'Empty Flight' From Afghanistan

The "empty" flight that Paul 'Pen' Farthing's wife travelled on

A former Royal Marine based in Afghanistan has said his wife has been evacuated from the country on an "empty" aircraft.

Paul 'Pen' Farthing, who runs animal charity Nowzad in the troubled country, posted an image on Twitter appearing to show rows of empty seats from inside a Norwegian military aircraft heading to Norway, calling it "scandalous". 

The veteran has been providing regular updates on the ongoing evacuations from the capital Kabul – something he warned on Thursday is a "humanitarian disaster that is just getting worse and worse every day".

Mr Farthing has said he will stay in Afghanistan with his charity staff for as long as it takes for them to get out of the country following the Taliban takeover. 

On Tuesday, he tweeted: "My wife is at the North gate of Kabul airport being crushed in the stampede to get with my 34 week pregnant country manager. The UK military will not come out to rescue them."

Nine hundred British troops and RAF aircraft have been deployed to Kabul to evacuate UK nationals and eligible Afghans, with more soldiers being sent.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey, who served in Afghanistan, said on Friday morning a total of 963 people have been evacuated from Kabul on the RAF "air bridge" in the last 24 hours.

He told Sky News: "That's a significant acceleration on the numbers over the previous 24 hours and reflects that we are now fully up to speed in Kabul with military, Border Force, Foreign Office consular staff all now up and running.

"We're looking forward to delivering similar numbers today, tomorrow and over the days ahead."

Watch: Mr Farthing explained to Forces News why he is refusing to leave Afghanistan.

The veteran-turned-MP also told ITV's Good Morning Britain that "no Royal Air Force plane has left empty, but not all of our flights have been completely full".

Mr Heappey said the Taliban is being "officious rather than malicious" in stopping people reaching Kabul airport for evacuation flights.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said UK troops will stay in Afghanistan "as long as the United State forces are running the airport".

Chaotic and desperate scenes have been seen at Kabul airport as Afghans attempt to escape the now Taliban-controlled country.

Pictures emerged earlier this week of Afghan civilians clinging on to the side of a US military aircraft on the runway.

Watch: Desperate scenes at Kabul airport has Afghans attempt to flee country.

Senior US military officials said the chaos at the airport on Monday morning had left seven people dead, including some who fell from a departing American military transport jet.

More recent footage from the airport has seen US soldiers firing tear gas to hold back crowds and a baby, according to social media reports, being lifted to safety over the airport's walls by soldiers.  

Meanwhile, Labour is demanding details about the Government's handling of the situation in Afghanistan and the Foreign Secretary being away on holiday while Kabul was taken over by the Taliban.

Dominic Raab has rejected calls from opposition parties for him to resign, after reports that he was "unavailable" when officials in his department suggested he "urgently" call Afghan foreign minister Hanif Atmar on Friday – two days before the Taliban marched on Kabul – to arrange help for Afghans who had supported British troops.

In a written statement issued by Mr Raab on Friday, he said he did not call the Afghan foreign minister when he was advised, because he was "prioritising security and capacity" at Kabul airport.

Watch: Afghanistan –  A timeline of British forces in the country.

He said the advice recommending a call to the Afghan Foreign Minister "was quickly overtaken by events".

The statement said: "The call was delegated to a minister of state because I was prioritising security and capacity at the airport on the direct advice of the director and the director general overseeing the crisis response.

"In any event, the Afghan Foreign Minister agreed to take the call but was unable to because of the rapidly deteriorating situation."

The Foreign Secretary then wrote on Twitter that his statement was "responding to the inaccurate media reporting over recent days".

If you or someone you know needs support at this time, you can find more information by visiting the British Army website and the Government's website.

Further details about support available can be found on our website.

Cover image: The "empty" flight that Paul 'Pen' Farthing's wife travelled on (Picture: Paul 'Pen' Farthing/Twitter).

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