The confirmed Thai death toll from the Hamas attack on Israel has risen to 18, the deputy foreign affairs minister said on Tuesday morning.
Jakkapong Sangmanee said the return of their bodies to Thailand must wait until Israeli forces reoccupy the affected zones. The victims’ bodies were unreachable until then.
The death toll is unofficial, based on reports from employers and pending official confirmation from Israeli authorities, ministry spokeswoman Kanchana Patarachoke said at a subsequent briefing.
She said Israeli police, in coordination with the Thai embassy, are using technology to facilitate facial recognition.
Nine Thais have been injured in the fighting and 11 are known to have been taken hostage by Hamas fighters, the ministry said.
Mr Jakkapong said Thai workers continue to be evacuated from risk areas in Israel.
Of the 5,000 Thai workers in the conflict area near the border with Gaza, 3,226 have registered for repatriation, said Ms Kanchana. There are about 30,000 Thai workers in Israel in all.
About 100 Thais had made it clear they did not want to return home immediately, the deputy minister said.
The repatriation process would initially depend on commercial and chartered flights, because military aircraft were not allowed to land in Israel as the fighting was approaching the airports, Mr Jakkapong said.
The initial repatriation of 15 Thai nationals is scheduled for Wednesday on an El Al flight. The number includes injured Thai nationals who are fit for travel and those who have been transferred to safe zones. They are scheduled to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on Thursday.
In addition, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Tuesday night that about 140 people would depart Israel on Oct 14 on a Royal Thai Air Force Airbus A340, arriving in Bangkok on Oct 15.
The next repatriation of 80 Thai nationals is scheduled for Oct 18, said Ms Kanchanaa.