Spain to airlift 500 Spanish and Afghan staff from Kabul airport


MADRID, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Spain plans to airlift around 500 people including Spanish embassy staff and Afghans who worked with them and their families from Kabul, radio station Cadena SER said on Wednesday, citing sources close to the evacuation.

A first military plane landed at Kabul airport late on Wednesday morning, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It was due to take off shortly with some of the evacuees aboard.

Cadena SER said Spanish authorities were planning to fly back embassy workers including Afghan staff who worked as translators or in logistics and security.

Afghan contractors would be allowed to take their spouses, children and other close family with them, Cadena SER said.

Officials from the foreign and defence ministries declined to confirm the number of people to be evacuated from Kabul.

The first plane had taken off on Wednesday morning from Dubai, where it was sent earlier this week to carry out the evacuation. Another aircraft is currently in Dubai and a third, equipped with medical infrastructure, is on its way, the Foreign and Defense ministries said in a statement.

France, Germany and Britain have already begun evacuating residents and local contractors after Taliban militants seized control of Afghanistan from the government at the weekend.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered on Tuesday to create a hub for the hundreds of Afghan refugees to be airlifted out of Kabul to the European Union but did not give details.

Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Nathan Allen and Catherine Evans