An additional Thai worker was confirmed killed in Israel and another was taken hostage, and the situation there remains critical, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Monday.
Mr Srettha was speaking at Suvarnabhumi airport prior to his departure for China to attend the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing on Oct 16-20.
He said another Thai worker had died and another was taken hostage, raising the Thai death toll to 29 and the number of those taken hostage to 18, but did not give details.
The prime minister said he had also been told that six Thai workers who were supposed to return to Thailand on the latest flight did not show up for the trip. Thai authorities tried to contact them, to no avail. It was believed they were in conflict areas and unable to travel out.
The latest flight was the Royal Thai Air Force’s A340-500 aircraft, which brought home 130 Thais on Monday morning.
Mr Srettha said a meeting on flight arrangements had been scheduled at the Foreign Ministry on Monday at 4pm – the time he was due to arrive in Beijing. He had given instructions they should try to find more flights, to evacuate all of the approximately 7,000 Thais who wished to return home from Israel by the end of November.
Asked about the Thais taken hostage, the prime minister admitted there had been no positive signs of them being released, despite reports of progress in negotiations.
Mr Srettha said the continued fighting and the rising death toll of Thai workers was worrying. He had instructed officials to do everything they could to get the hostages released and bring them home as soon as possible.
Asked about reports some Thai workers were being forced by their Israeli employers to continue working, even though the country was now at war, Mr Srettha said he had already told the Israeli ambassador that this was unacceptable. She had agreed to look into the matter.