Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomethailandgeneralPM expects more repatriation flight progress

PM expects more repatriation flight progress

The government hopes to get overflight permission from more than 10 countries for its repatriation flights from Israel within two days instead of 10 days as initially expected, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Saturday.

With an estimated 7,000 workers having expressed a wish to leave the war zone, Thailand is seeking to bring back more of its citizens from Israel than nearly any other country in the world.

About two dozen countries are attempting to repatriate their nationals from Israel on military aircraft and commercial airlines, with varying degrees of success.

At least two countries cancelled some weekend repatriation flights, saying Israeli preparations for a ground assault on Gaza had increased the risk for airlines operating in the area.

Mr Srettha said he expected to hear more updates on evacuation operations when he meets with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Sunday.

The Ministry of Public Health, meanwhile, said that of the 56 Thai people — 55 men and one woman — who returned on the second flight from Israel, two received further care for gunshot wounds. Another eight people were found to be experiencing varying degrees of mental trauma and would need extra care before they would be allowed to go home.

The two injured workers were a 38-year-old man from Nakhon Phanom who was shot in the hip, and a 26-year-old Khon Kaen man who was shot in the pelvis, said Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew.

The two men were examined at Bang Phli Hospital and later discharged and allowed to go home as their conditions were not worrying, said the minister.

Twenty-four Thai people have been killed in Israel since the Hamas assault began last weekend, with 16 injured and another 16 taken hostage.

The next repatriation flight is scheduled to land at 7.25am Sunday at U-tapao Airport, where medical and mental health teams would be on hand if needed, said the minister.

The passengers will be taken to the SC Park Hotel in Bangkok where their families are waiting to welcome them back home, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A fourth repatriation flight, to be operated by the air force, is scheduled to leave Tel Aviv at 1pm Sunday Israel time and arrive at the Royal Thai Air Force Wing 6, on Monday at 4.40am.

In Nakhon Phanom, meanwhile, relatives of Thai workers in Israel who could not be contacted have sought help from the provincial labour office.

Of the 2,100 Thais from the northeastern province who work in Israel, some 330 are in high-risk areas and five could not be contacted.

Australia, Switzerland cancel flights

In a related development, Australia on Saturday cancelled two planned repatriation flights due to the “highly challenging and rapidly changing” situation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

Australia continues to work with citizens in the area to help them return home and will communicate about future flights, it added.

The first in the planned series of repatriation flights left on Friday local time, with over 200 Australians and their families arriving safely in London, according to SBS News.

Swiss International Air Lines said on Friday that it was suspending its repatriation flights until further notice, citing the expected Israeli ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The carrier cancelled two special flights from Tel Aviv to Zurich, scheduled for Saturday, to evacuate Swiss nationals.

“With the risk of a new escalation between the different parties to the conflict increasing sharply, the reliability and safety of flights with our crews and passengers are increasingly threatened,” Swiss said in a statement.

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