BANGKOK Oct 13 Many Thais were left stunned on
Thursday by the death of their long-time monarch, King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, even though his health had been fragile for years.
The palace said in an announcement that the 88-year-old, who
was the world's longest-reigning monarch, died peacefully in
By nightfall hundreds of people had gathered at Bangkok's
Siriraj Hospital where the king spent most of the past year
being treated for various illnesses.
"We came here hoping for a miracle. We hoped the news wasn't
true," said lawyer Pimook Linpaisarn, 32.
Mourners around him held on to portraits of the king, or
gazed up tearfully at the top-floor ward where they presumed his
Some read a black-edged palace statement on their
smartphones and cried.
Pimook came to the hospital with his girlfriend Aunchisa
Saekuay, who said the restaurant she runs was closed until
"It's like our father has gone," she wept.
The king was seen as a pillar of stability in a country that
has weathered years of political unrest.
His seven-decade reign spanned the lifetime of most Thais
and his portrait is visible throughout the country in offices,
schools and on the front of government buildings.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Thai civil servants
would mourn for the king for a year and urged Thais to refrain
from festivities for the next 30 days.
WOMEN BREAK DOWN
As official news of King Bhumibol's death spread through the
hospital grounds, a small group of women broke down, wailing and
hugging each other for comfort.
Most people were sombre in grief.
Siriraj, a big, busy city hospital, was overrun by mourners
at times, although the river of people parted for patients on
gurneys and wheelchairs coming in and out.
Soon, though, police and soldiers blocked the entrances to
the hospital and the crowds inside thinned.
A thousand or more mourners amassed outside instead, some
lining up to hold aloft a giant portrait of the king while
friends or relatives took photos.
The atmosphere was subdued and respectful, with little of
the raw emotion displayed earlier inside the hospital.
Elsewhere in Bangkok, the music coming out of the infamous
bars of Patpong, one of Bangkok's red light districts, was
turned down as a mark of respect.
"There has not been an order to close down the night clubs
so far," a policeman in the area said.
In the backpacker enclave of Khao San Road, just across the
river from Siriraj Hospital, shops and restaurants were as busy
as usual, with beer-drinking customers spilling on to the
streets from bars.
Television screens inside some establishments showed
black-and-white films of the king's life, which were being
played on all Thai channels.
(Additional reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Pairat
Temphairojana; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Mike