It was a heartwarming scene of joy and relief at the bustling Suvarnabhumi Airport where groups of eager relatives waited in anticipation for their loved ones. A total of 244 Thai nationals, returned home from the sandy terrains of Israel. The returnees, which also included a group of eager academic explorers from Princess of Naradhiwas University, had their flights touch down at the Bangkok-based airport at precisely 10pm on the evening of October 16.
The welcoming group added a formal touch to the joyous homecoming, featuring some notable individuals such as Bunyawee Khwaiphan, who holds the pivotal role of Deputy Director at the Department of Employment, and Sombat Phothiwat, the abled Director of the Central Employment and Labour Protection Registry. They were joined by Thipawan Thongsi, the acting Director of the much lauded Department of Labour Abroad. The Suvarnabhumi airport staff, remembered for their tireless and dedicated service, were also in attendance.
These hardworking Thai nationals and bright students, from Princess of Naradhiwas University, made up the fifth batch to return home, their stay abroad cut short by the escalating conflict in Israel. The returning group arrived in Thailand via the reliable services of the El Al Israel Airlines on flight LY085, which had taken off from Tel Aviv at a prompt 8.46am, before successfully landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport on the evening of October 16 at 9.05pm, reported KhaoSod.
Among the returning nationals was Sakitsit Wichitthongchai, a 28-year-old braveheart from Nakhon Ratchasima, who graciously shared his nerve-wracking experiences of working a mere 30 kilometers from the conflict zone. The constant sounds of gunfire became part of their daily existence, creating a pervasive sense of fear among the workers. Even the peaceful slumber of the night was not devoid of terror, where self-defence weapons found their place next to the beds. Despite the intense situation, his camp home to around 60 workers, miraculously escaped unscathed, unlike a nearby camp which tragically lost seven or eight workers.
The upcoming flights scheduled to ferry more of the Thai nationals includes flight LY085, expected to arrive on October 17, 2023, at 7.05pm, carrying another 250 workers. Further, approximately 280 registered passengers are preparing to touch Thai soil on flight TG 8951, set to land in the early hours of October 18, 2023, at 3.30 am.
In a related unfortunate tale, a Hmong woman from the scenic province of Chiang Rai reached out in desperate appeal in locating her husband, who was rumoured to be captured during a surprise Hamas raid in Israeli soil. He had been working on an avocado orchard, not far from the volatile Gaza Strip, contributing as the sole income provider for his family based in Thailand. The prompt and supportive Thai authorities are extending their aid, simultaneously working on plans to safely repatriate another Thai worker from the troubled areas of Israel.