Sanam Luang and surrounding roads were turned into a sea of black yesterday as a massive crowd of mourners from all over the country joined the heartfelt singing of the Royal Anthem in a historic assembly in memory of the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Despite the heat, the crowd stood calmly and sang as one, many with tearful eyes, while raising portraits of His Majesty and banknote bearing his image.
"When I am alone, I always miss him [the King]. I don't know what to do. So, I came here to join others in singing the Royal Anthem. I'm glad to be part of this epic moment," Sunee Boonrod, 70, Bangkok told The Nation.
The mass recital of the Royal Anthem was accompanied by a 200-piece orchestra and a 150-strong chorus under the baton of renowned music director Somtow Sucharitkul. The stage was set at the centre of Sanam Luang, a park adjacent the Grand Palace, where royal and religious rites have been taking place following the King's death on October 13 at the age of 89.
This most heartfelt tribute yesterday was filmed by prominent director MC Chatrichalerm Yukol and his 1,300-strong production crew, with 50 cameras, including two drones and cameras positioned on two cranes, as well as 25 microphones set up in six locations to capture the event.
The film, which will include added footage of His Majesty's royal activities, will be shown on TV and cinemas across the country from next week. The crowd at yesterday's event was estimated to be around 150,000, according to deputy police spokesman Maj-General Songpol Wattanachai. The number could have hit 250,000 if whole surface of Sanam Luang and the surrounding roads were filled, he said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed admiration for the thousands who took part in the event, especially those who had travelled long distances and began arriving very early in the morning.
Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd quoted the PM as saying that because everyone shared the same heart, and despite the burning sun, the people had created one of the greatest and most impressive spectacles showing Thais' respect and loyalty to the late King.
Crowds have been massing outside the Grand Palace, with many journeying from far-away provinces to pay respects to HM the King.
Some have pitched tents on a large grassy field outside the Royal compound, while others have slept on simple bamboo mats.
Overall, yesterday's event went smoothly, said new Bangkok Governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang.
"There are 2,000 security officers and seven security checkpoints. Also, 140 tents are provided around the park with capacity to accommodate over 20,000 people. For medical treatment, hospital staff and doctors are on standby at 11 points for emergency cases," Aswin said.
However, according to a source from the BMA, hundreds of missing person cases were reported yesterday.
"The number of the missing cases today [yesterday] is around five times higher than previous days," the source said.
However, the source said most of the missing people were found.
But as of 5pm, dozens of the reported missing people remained lost, according to the source.
Meanwhile, hundreds people of all ages passed out around noon yesterday at the height of the anthem event, according to a source of the joint safety command centre.
However, Aswin said there was no serious health cases, with most cases people passing out.