C-17 US air force globemaster afghanistan refugees
This image distributed Courtesy of the US Air Force shows the inside of Reach 871, a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III flown from Kabul to Qatar on August 15, 2021. The plane safely evacuated some 823 Afghans from Kabul late Sunday, according to US defence officials contacted by Defense One. Image Credit: AFP

Washington: The US Air Force says the cargo plane packed with Afghan refugees whose photo was widely shared online actually carried even more people than originally thought - 823 - and marked a new passenger record for the aircraft.

The brief statement by the Air Mobility Command on Friday said the C-17 that departed the capital, Kabul, last Sunday had an initial count of 640 passengers, but that figure inadvertently left out 183 children sitting on people's laps.

C-17 US air force globemaster afghanistan refugees
Hundreds of people run alongside a US Air Force C-17 transport plane as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug.16. 2021. Image Credit: AP

The statement said the correct count of 823 passengers is a record for the C-17. It took off as the Taliban swept into the city, prompting thousands of Afghans and foreigners to rush to the airport seeking flight out - with some reaching the tarmac.