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Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies at 88

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01:17 - Source: CNN
King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand dies

Story highlights

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is the king's appointed successor

Bhumibol ascended to the throne 70 years ago

He was the world's longest-reigning monarch before he died

CNN —  

Thailand has heightened security amid funeral preparations for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a revered figure who helped unify the nation in his 70-year reign. He was 88.

Here’s the latest:

• The Thai cabinet approved a public holiday for government offices Friday. The cabinet is asking the public not to hold any “entertainment activities” for a month, according to an announcement on Thai state television. The holiday is discretionary for private companies.

• Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is the king’s appointed successor

• Thousands gathered at the hospital, shouting “Long live the king!”

• Civil servants are ordered to wear black clothes for one year in mourning from Friday

• US President Barack Obama described the king as a man of “grace and warmth”

The announcement came in a statement from the Royal Palace read on state TV Thursday and followed a dayslong outpouring of support since the king was hospitalized October 3. He underwent medical procedures over the weekend.

READ MORE: King was peacemaker at times of crisis in Thailand

The king died at 3:52 p.m. in a “peaceful manner,” the Royal Palace said, as thousands waited outside Siriraj Hospital in nervous anticipation of the news.

Bhumibol ascended to the throne 70 years ago, making him the world’s longest-reigning monarch before his death.

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Exactly when Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will ascend to the throne is unknown.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said “he needs time to jointly mourn with Thai people.”

The prime minister urged people to be vigilant about national security.

“Everyone will need to be alert in every region and throughout the country to ensure safety,” he said.

A people shattered

Hundreds of people had for days gathered at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital where the king was being treated, and as the sun began to set, the crowd swelled into the thousands.

A Thai woman cries upon hearing that the nation's monarch had died.
Pongpat Patumsuwon/CNN
A Thai woman cries upon hearing that the nation's monarch had died.

They were dressed predominantly in pink – an auspicious color believed to restore health – and yellow, which is the color of the king, based on the fact he was born on a Monday.

READ MORE: Crown Prince says he ‘needs time to mourn’

Some outside the hospital said they didn’t know where else to go for comfort, and many said they had hoped he would live to 120.

Many in the crowd prayed, sang the royal anthem and repeatedly shouted, “Long live the king.”