Three families in Afghanistan depart safely

While 5 others remain stranded
Originally Published: 25 AUG 21 18:01 ET
Updated: 26 AUG 21 19:53 ET

(CNN) — Three San Diego families who were stranded in Afghanistan after visiting relatives have made it out safely, while five others are still stuck as chaos continues to unfold around the capital city’s airport.

Two families departed the country Thursday, according to Howard Shen, spokesperson for the Cajon Valley Union School District, where some of the children involved attend school. A third family with five children, four of whom are students in the district, left Wednesday, Shen said.

Five additional families from the school district — consisting of 14 students and eight parents — are still in Afghanistan, he estimated, noting that information is fluid and constantly evolving.

The departures come as deadly suicide attacks rocked the area near Kabul’s airport Thursday, killing more than 60 people and wounding at least 140 while the United States and other Western countries race to complete evacuations of their citizens and Afghan allies following the Taliban takeover of the country.

“We don’t believe any of our students were hurt during the explosion,” Shen told CNN.

The school district, which serves between 16,000 and 17,000 students from preschool through eighth grade, is home to a large immigrant and refugee population, mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Shen said the district is working with US Rep. Darrell Issa and other national security officials to assist the families with a safe exit.

Issa and his staff “are aware of the location of several American citizens,” and are in direct and consistent contact with them, Jonathan Wilcox, a spokesperson for the representative, told CNN earlier this week.

“They are scared, stranded and trapped in the Kabul area,” Wilcox said in a statement. “So far, they’ve been unable to reach the airport. I know the President and his Press Secretary have previously said this isn’t happening, but that’s dead wrong.”

President Joe Biden vowed at a Thursday briefing to continue evacuations despite the attack.

Asked about the group of Southern California students at a White House briefing Wednesday afternoon, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “I certainly don’t have additional information on that.”

Wilcox said Issa and his staff are “in consistent contact” with the State Department, the Pentagon and others in Afghanistan.

“We have reason to believe that other California residents are very much in the same situation,” Wilcox said. “This is real.”

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