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Thursday, October 13, 2016, 23:08

Thai King Bhumibol dies at 88

By Agencies
Thai King Bhumibol dies at 88
A Thai woman cries as she prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej outside Siriraj Hospital where the king is being treated in Bangkok, Thailand , Oct 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

BANGKOK - Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was the world's longest-reigning monarch, died in hospital on Thursday, the palace said in an announcement. He was 88 years old.

"His Majesty has passed away at Siriraj Hospital peacefully," the palace said, adding he died at 15:52 (0852 GMT).

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej who was the world's longest-reigning monarch, died in hospital on Thursday

the palace

"Even though the board of doctors has closely monitored and treated him to the best of its abilities, the king's condition never improved," it said.

China has expressed deep condolences at the passing of Thai King Bhumibol and extended sincere sympathies to the Thai government and people.

"King Bhumibol was revered by the people of Thailand and made remarkable contributions to the country's stability and development," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang in a statement.

Over the past years, King Bhumibol made painstaking efforts in developing friendly ties between China and Thailand and chartered the direction of bilateral relations with Chinese leaders, Geng said.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will be the new monarch in accordance with the constitution.

He said the crown prince was designated the successor to the crown on Dec 28, 2002.

"We the government must proceed with the next steps in accordance with the law," he said.

Thai King Bhumibol dies at 88
In this Dec 5, 2010, file photo, Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej waves to well-wishers as he returns to Siriraj Hospital after attending a ceremony to celebrate his birthday in Bangkok.  (AP Photo, File)

He said the government will notify the National Legislative Assembly, or parliament, of the king's successor, and they will act accordingly with the laws of succession in the constitution.

Prayuth added that the government will observe one year of mourning and flags will fly at half-staff for 30 days. No government events will be held for 30 days, he said.

Hundreds of Thais have gathered outside the hospital since the palace announced on Sunday that the king's condition had become "unstable."

Bhumibol Adulyadej became king in 1946 and was revered in Thailand as a demigod. He anchored the Southeast Asian country through violent upheavals at home and communist revolutions next door with a blend of majesty and a common touch.

The once-vigorous king had withdrawn from public life over the last decade due to his ill health. He lived at the hospital and had been notably silent about the political upheaval that has shaken Thailand in recent years.

Hundreds of tearful mourners gathered Thursday outside the hospital, grasping photos of the king, chanting prayers and looking up at the building where he had been treated.

"There is no word to explain my feeling right now," Gaewkarn Fuangtong, a humanitarian worker, said in Bangkok's financial district.

"I lost one of the most important people in my life. I feel like I haven't done enough for him. I should have done more. I will do good, do better for his sake."

Bhumibol had suffered from a variety of ailments related to old age, including kidney and lung problems.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday expressed "his deep condolences" to the royal family, government and people of Thailand on the passing of King Bhumibol, acknowledging his long dedication to his country and his legacy as a unifying national leader.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he was in "deep sorrow" at the death of Bhumibol, and remembered him as a gentle person.

Thai King Bhumibol dies at 88
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