Kabul/Frankfurt (dpa) – The Bundeswehr has rescued more than 1,600 people from Afghanistan since Monday.

In Tashkent, Uzbekistan, another transport plane carrying 181 people trapped in Kabul landed Friday morning, the Bundeswehr announced on Twitter. Civil aircraft continue to Germany from the Uzbek capital.

Among those rescued by early Thursday evening were at least 244 German civilians, in addition to Afghan local personnel and other people in need — far more than originally expected. And there may be several hundred more in the country. Meanwhile, “a middle three-digit number” Germans has registered on the Foreign Ministry’s crisis list, as the ministry’s German news agency learned.

Originally it was just under 100. But due to the dramatic situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power, many have registered. The numbers keep changing. The 40 embassy employees who flew to Qatar on Monday evening are not taken into account.

On Thursday, machines carrying hundreds of rescued people landed in Frankfurt again. In the morning, a total of about 500 people were on board two chartered planes from Lufthansa and Uzbekistan Airways from Tashkent. A Lufthansa spokesman said another plane landed in the afternoon. There were about 150 people on the Airbus A340.

The Bundeswehr had launched a rescue operation this week for Germans and Afghans to bring them to safety after the militant Islamist Taliban came to power.

Eyewitnesses report chaos

After landing in Germany, passengers reported terrible experiences and chaotic conditions at Kabul airport. “It’s terrible,” said Mahmud Sadjadi, a German with Afghan roots. He saw the dead and heard gunshots. “Helplessness, hopelessness. Just chaos”, is how he described the situation in Kabul.

The man from the Westerwald had previously arrived in Frankfurt on the Lufthansa evacuation flight. It is especially dangerous at the airport in the Afghan capital, said Sadjadi, who had been in Kabul for three weeks. “For example, you have to go through a Taliban barrier.” Afghan security forces shot. He heard how people died. Without a passport it was not possible to get through to the airport.

Another passenger, who declined to give his name, reported organizational problems during the return operation. “The situation is difficult and not easy to control,” he said. But the people of Afghanistan need help. “The world must help the Afghan people.”

The passenger Sadjadi thanked the federal government for the rescue, but also complained about a lack of information. “There was no information about where to collect, when to collect.” One was left alone, he had no reply to his emails. Other countries are said to have picked up their people by bus and brought them to the airport. “Thank God everything went well.”

Yet he thinks of the many people who are still in Afghanistan. He himself still has a family in Afghanistan, his siblings live there, said Sadjadi, who was taken care of by his children in Frankfurt. A terrible game is being played with the country, he says. “The cheapest thing there is is the life of an Afghan.”

Reactions from politicians

Former Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) spoke out before an international conference in Afghanistan. “The sooner it happens, the better,” he told the editorial network Germany (RND/Friday). Russia and China must join in too – even if both countries are still dominated by ridicule and malice because of the embarrassment of the West. “Today’s triumphal howls in Moscow and Beijing will soon fade,” says Gabriel. In addition to the EU and the world powers US, China and Russia, Pakistan and Iran were also on the table, he emphasized.

Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet spoke out in favor of talks with the Taliban to help vulnerable people in Afghanistan. “The art of good foreign policy consists precisely in finding solutions with those states whose goals and human image our society rightly rejects,” said the CDU head of the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. “Refusing to enter into dialogue with the Taliban would not help the people who want to leave Afghanistan.”