MEDIA
08/11/2014 03:24 pm ET Updated Aug 11, 2014

CNN Reporter Aboard Rescue Helicopter Describes 'Terrifying' Scene In Iraq

A CNN reporter aboard an Iraqi Air Force helicopter was thrown into an unexpected and dramatic rescue on Monday to save stranded civilians in northern Iraq.

CNN’s senior international correspondent Ivan Watson said that the helicopter only intended to drop diapers, milk, shoes and food on Mount Shingal, where tens of thousands of Iraqi Yazidis are currently trapped. Once the helicopter landed, however, the mission quickly changed as dozens of civilians desperate for safety ran towards the chopper and forced themselves on board.

Watson described the scene as "chaotic" and "crazy," as people threw themselves onto the helicopter. When back in the air, Watson said "the relief was palpable"-- many people burst into tears, though still hungry and dehydrated.

“I’ve been doing this job for more than 10 years-- I have never seen a situation as desperate as this, as emotionally charged as this," Watson told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

At one point, gunners on board began shooting at targets down below to protect the people from ISIS fighters who have been making attempts to shoot down helicopters carrying emergency aid. Watson said the open fire was "terrifying" for everyone on board.

"Kids were crying, women were screaming," he said. "But this is the only defense that the helicopter has from the ISIS military down below."

Watson confirmed on Twitter that the helicopter eventually landed safely in Kurdistan.

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