Hundreds of Afghans fleeing Kabul pictured tightly packed in a US Air Force cargo plane

Hundreds of Afghans can be seen tightly packed in a US military plane after they were evacuated from the turmoiled capital Kabul late on Sunday, desperate to escaped their now Taliban-controlled country. 

The photo from the US defence department and obtained by news site Defense Oneshows roughly 640 citizens on board the US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III from Kabul to Qatar, according to the site.

It was a much larger number than expected and came near the record for the most people ever flown in the Boeing airlifter.

A defence official told Defense One the plane was not intending to take on so many passengers but the panicked Afghans clambered on board the plane via its half-open ramp. 

The official said instead of forcing the fleeing citizens off the military cargo plane, “the crew made the decision to go”.

“Approximately 640 Afghan civilians disembarked the aircraft when it arrived at its destination,” one defence official said.