Thai worker recounts frantic escape to home from Israel-Hamas conflict

BANGKOK (Reuters) – When fighting broke out in Israel, Thai worker Katchakorn Pudtason hid under a bunker at his employer’s home before rushing back to their farm on the back of a car.

He is one of 41 Thai nationals who returned home on Thursday after being evacuated from areas near Gaza designated as dangerous.

“That morning fighting broke out, it was so violent,” he said, sitting in a wheelchair as he recounted his escape from the Hamas attack to reporters at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Bullets whizzed by their vehicle, one of them injuring him.

“I was the first to get shot – in the knee … I thought I was hit with stones,” he said.

Four of his fellow workers had been injured, one shot in the cheek, he said.

“The gun shots were constant, it’s nothing like in the movies. The shots were showering down on us, like they wanted us ripped up.”

The death toll of Thai citizens in Israel rose to 21 on Thursday with 16 taken hostage and 14 wounded, according to the Thai government.

Thailand is one of the largest sources of migrant workers in Israel, with around 30,000 working in the agriculture sector.

Katchakorn said he was happy to be home.

Thailand was doing its best bring back the 6,000 Thais who are looking to come home, Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara said.

(Reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa and Artorn Pookasook, Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng, Edited by Angus MacSwan)