Thais gripped by grief after beloved king’s death

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

BANGKOK (AP): HAIS WEPT in grief across the na­tion yes­ter­day after the palace an­nounced the death of their beloved King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, the coun­try’s uni­fy­ing fig­ure and the world’s longestreign­ing monarch. He was 88.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered at Bangkok’s Siri­raj Hos­pi­tal, where Bhu­mi­bol had been treated for a va­ri­ety of ail­ments for much of the past decade. Many sobbed loudly, clutch­ing each other in an­guish and shout­ing, “Long live the king.”

The gov­ern­ment an­nounced a 100-day mourn­ing pe­riod and a 30-day mora­to­rium on state events. His son, Crown Prince Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn, is to suc­ceed him on the throne.

“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.”

Most Thais had seen no other

TThais cry out­side Siri­raj Hos­pi­tal, on Thurs­day where King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej was treated in Bangkok, Thai­land. Thai­land’s Royal Palace said King Bhu­mi­bol, the world’s long­est-reign­ing monarch, has died at age 88.

king in their life­time and thought of Bhu­mi­bol, who reigned for 70 years, as their fa­ther and the

em­bod­i­ment of good­ness and god­li­ness.

Al­though a con­sti­tu­tional

monarch, he wielded enor­mous po­lit­i­cal power and served as a uni­fy­ing fig­ure dur­ing Thai­land’s King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej

nu­mer­ous po­lit­i­cal crises. But in re­cent years, he suf­fered from a va­ri­ety of ill­nesses that af­fected his kid­neys, brain, lungs, heart and blood.

“Since I was young I saw him work re­ally hard, and now it’s hard to ex­plain. I feel numb inside,” said Danai­wut Wiroon­piti 26, a pho­tog­ra­pher who was cry­ing out­side the Grand Palace where the king’s body will be taken in a pro­ces­sion Fri­day. “He’s the cen­tre of all Thai peo­ple. It’s like we lost the main pil­lar of our lives, the per­son who holds us to­gether. I can’t hold my tears.”

Por­traits of Bhu­mi­bol dis­played in most Thai homes and busi­nesses of­ten de­pict him in ar­du­ous trav­els to re­mote vil­lages, where he of­ten went to see the sit­u­a­tion of his sub­jects first hand.

But re­cently, when­ever Bhu­mi­bol ap­peared in pub­lic, he was in wheelchair, wav­ing fee­bly at his sub­jects. Even those rare ap­pear­ances stopped as he be­came con­fined to the hos­pi­tal.

AP PHOTOS

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