The King of Thailand has passed away at age 88. Bhumibil Adulyadej had been on the throne for 70 years and ascended after his older brother had passed away after a shooting accident.
The monarch had been suffering ill health in recent years and was rarely seen in public. In a statement from the palace: "His majesty has passed away at Siriraj Hospital peacefully," a statement said, adding he had died at 15:52 “. The king was a stabilising figure and had been credited for developing the nations rural poor, settling political disputes and bringing stability to an otherwise fractious country. In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said Thailand would hold a one-year mourning period, that flags would fly half-mast and all entertainment functions must be "toned down" for a month.
In a later statement he urged vigilance, saying national security was a top priority.
"Everyone will need to be alert in every region and throughout the country to ensure safety", he said.
The king's death comes as Thailand remains under military rule following a coup in 2014.
A palace official, speaking to crowds outside the hospital, said the body of the king would be moved to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok on Friday.
Although the prime minister said Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn would become the new monarch, he added that the official proclamation would be made at a later date.
He said the crown prince had confirmed that he would perform his duty as heir to the throne, but had asked for time to mourn his father's death.
The crown prince, who is 64, is much less well known to Thais and has not attained his father's widespread popularity. He spends much of his time overseas, especially in Germany.
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