Grief sweeps across crowd at Siriraj Hospital following news that Thailand's King had died

A person holds a photo of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as people react to his death on October 13, 2016 at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok.
PHOTO: AFP

After the official announcement of the King's death from the Bureau of the Royal Household at around 7pm, the outpouring of grief at the hospital began, with many learning of his passing on social media. They shouted: "Long live the King".

All day yesterday at the hospital, people sat on the ground around a monument of His Majesty the King's father and wept. Some passed out. Nurses performed first aid.

"Please don't leave us," screamed a tearful Pornprapa Srisang, a 43- year-old businesswoman, who arrived at the hospital late yesterday afternoon. "Please wake up and stay with your people. You just sleep, I know. You are so tired and you just fall asleep. Please stay with us."

Waraporn Sertsurin, a 28-year-old corporate employee from Bangkok, had refused to believe the rumour that the King was dead, which spread until about 7pm.

After composing themselves, people sang royal songs expressing their best wishes for the King before shouting relentlessly: "May the King go to heaven".

The singing continued for almost half-an-hour before fading as the crowds descended into a quiet period of mourning.

Some tried to edge closer to the hospital, while others thought they saw a curtain close in a hospital room. It could not be confirmed it was the room where the King had been treated.

At 9pm, some people began to leave the hospital grounds, while others stayed and continued to sing the royal songs and shout: "Long live the King".

PM Lee pays last respects to late Thai King in Bangkok

  • President Tony Tan Keng Yam paid his respects to Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday in the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
  • Dr Tan, who was accompanied by his wife Mary, as well as officials from Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry, laid a wreath by the late monarch's royal urn and signed a condolence book.
  • His visit came three days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong travelled to Bangkok to do the same.
  • "King Bhumibol was also a close friend of many countries, including Singapore. Under his long reign, the bilateral relations between Singapore and Thailand strengthened significantly," wrote Dr Tan.
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching have paid their last respects to the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyade at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
  • The Singapore leader laid a wreath at the Royal Urn in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall and also signed the book of condolences on Oct 21.
  • A scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Lee and Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha was cancelled due to last-minute scheduling difficulties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
  • The prime minister had earlier paid his respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Thai Embassy in Singapore on Oct 14, a day after the 88-year-old died at a Bangkok hospital.
  • PM Lee Hsien Loong signs the condolence book at the Thai Embassy in Singapore, 14 Oct 2016.
  • People pay respect and sign condolence book for the late Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Thai embassy in Singapore on 15 October 2016 .
  • According to the embassy, a condolence book will be open for signing at its premises at 370 Orchard Road, from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 4.30pm.
  • Visitors can access the embassy via its Claymore Road entrance.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • This group of students were at the Royal Thai embassy this morning and were told that the embassy would only open at 4pm.
  • A group of close to 33 St Francis Methodhist School students wait outside the Royal Thai embassy on 14 Oct 2016. They were told to return at 4pm when the embassy would allow well-wishers in.
  • A student from St Francis Methodist stands outside the Royal Thai embassy gates on 14 Oct 2016.
  • (L-R) Stamp Promphan, 15, and Pirapat Chaiya,13, from St Francis Methodhist School outside the Royal Thai embassy on 14 Oct 2016.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • St Francis Methodhist School students offer prayers for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Ananda Metyarama, the Thai Buddhist temple along Bukit Merah Rd.
  • The Thai flag flies at half mast at the Royal Thai embassy in Jakarta on October 14, 2016.
  • The Thai flag flies at half mast at the Royal Thai embassy in Jakarta on October 14, 2016.
  • Ms Darunee sobbing after hearing of Thai King Bhumibol's death on Oct 13.
  • She had planned to go home next month but is flying back to Bangkok today to pay her respects.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • Reaction of the Thai people at Golden Mile complex after the demise of Thailand King Bhumibol.
  • People react shortly after it was announced that Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej died at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2016.
  • Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was the world's longest-reigning monarch, died in hospital on Thursday, the palace said in an announcement.
  • The palace did not give a reason for his death. He was 88 years old.
  • The king was credited with restoring the influence of Thailand's royalty during 70 years on the throne and earning the devotion of many of his subjects.
  • For the majority of the country's 68 million people, the king was a pillar of stability in rapidly changing times.
  • King Bhumibol, who ascended the throne on June 9, 1946, was seen as a force for unity, and there have long been concerns that the political tensions that have riven Thailand over the past decade could worsen after his death.
  • A well-wisher gestures in front of a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016.
  • A well-wisher hold up a portrait of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 10, 2016.
  • Well-wishers wear pink shirts as they pray in front of a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher wears a pink shirt as she prays in front of a portrait of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher holds a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher holds a picture of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as she prays for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand, October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for him at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers hold portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher holds portraits of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher weeps as she prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • Well-wishers pray for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.
  • A well-wisher prays for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj hospital where he is residing in Bangkok, Thailand October 12, 2016.

Nationwide, millions of people simultaneously were grief stricken. Several residents in the far Western Tak province, who were praying with monks in temples, burst into tears after learning the news.

In Chiang Mai, people had followed reports on the King's health in major venues including the busy markets via TV, before falling into silence upon learning of his death. The old city went quieter than usual.

Ubon Ratchathani resident Supit Phongsri was shocked by the news, and struggled to accept it.

"I feel today is the saddest day in my life, but I do wish he rests in peace and goes to heaven," Supit said.

A retired Royal Irrigation Department chief who worked for His Majesty, Pramote Maiklad, said he felt very lucky to have had the chance to serve him closely.

Pramote said that in the King he saw genius, which he wholeheartedly embraced as a guide for his own life.

A look back at Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej's life

  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the world's longest-reigning monarch. His health has been fragile and he has not appeared in public for months.
  • King Ananda Mahidol (pictured here), 20, is found dead in his palace bedroom in Bangkok with a single gunshot wound in the head from a Colt .45 he kept by his bedside. His death shocks the nation. Within hours, his brother Bhumibol Adulyadej, 18, is named the new king. He returns to Switzerland to continue his studies while an uncle acts as regent. The case is later ruled as murder, and two royal servants and a personal secretary of the former king are convicted and executed for plotting to assassinate him.
  • Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej being carried by a cortege during the coronation ceremony in Thailand. Taken on May 5, 1950.
  • Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit posing with their first child Princess Ubol Ratana in April 1951.
  • (on left) Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej receiving flowers from a villager.
  • (on right) Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit posing with their first two children Princess Ubol Ratana and Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn in 1955.
  • Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (centre) on the throne at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
  • Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej taking a picture during his trip to Cambodia. Taken on July 7, 1980
  • Japanese Emperor Akihito (second from right) and Empress Michiko (second from left) posing with Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (right) and Queen Sirikit at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Taken on Sept 25, 1991.
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej receiving garlands from villagers. Photo made available by the Thai Royal Bureau on June 5, 2006.
  • (From left) Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Sirikit appearing at a balcony of Anantasamakom Throne Hall in Bangkok to mark the King's birthday. Taken on Dec 5, 1999.
  • Tennis player Paradorn Srichaphan (left) being granted a royal audience with Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Chitralada Palace in Bangkok.
  • French President Jacques Chirac (right) speaking to Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the start of a gala dinner at the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Taken on Feb 17, 2006.
  • Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his wife Queen Sirikit (left) reviewing the guard of honour during the military parade to celebrate his 81st birthday in Bangkok, Thailand. Taken on Dec 2, 2008.
  • Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej as he sits on a wheelchair during an appearance at a hospital in Bangkok on Oct 23, 2009.
  • Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meeting King Bhumibol at his palace in Hua Hin in 2009.
  • Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej waving to well-wishers after the royal ceremony for his 83rd birthday in Bangkok. Taken on Dec 5, 2010.
  • Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (centre) sitting in a wheelchair as he departs Siriraj hospital to grant an audience on his 85th birthday celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand on Dec 5, 2012.
  • Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (centre), Queen Sirikit (second from right) and Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (right) visiting Thung Makham. Taken on May 25, 2012.
  • King Bhumibol has been on the throne since 1946. A well-wisher was among those who prayed for his well-being in Bangkok on Oct 10, 2016.
  • On Oct 10, 2016, well-wishers pray in front of a picture of King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok where he is usually treated when ill.
  • A well-wisher at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, where the king is treated when his health condition is serious.
  • Images of King Bhumibol were held during a parade at a festival in Narathiwat on Sep 17, 2016.
  • King Bhumibol has been in hospital since the end of May and has received treatment for various ailments.
  • Well-wishers held up portraits of King Bhumibol at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok on Oct 10, 2016.
  • The king was last seen in public on Jan 11, 2016, when he left hospital to visit his Bangkok palace for a few hours.
  • The king is widely adored by many Thais, who revere him as a semi-divine figure.
  • This exquisite cigarette box was a gift from King Bhumibol to Singapore's President S R Nathan in 2005. It is displayed at the Istana Heritage Gallery.
  • King Bhumibol welcoming President S R Nathan in his state visit in 2005.
  • Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew ande Mrs Lee meeting King Bhumibol at his palace in Bangkok in 1998.
  • The king has been treated for various ailments during a year-long hospitalisation in the Thai capital.
  • Many Thais see the king as a pillar of stability in a country which has seen bouts of political unrest over the past decade following the downfall of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
  • Women offer prayers for Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital, where the king is being treated, in Bangkok on October 11, 2016.
  • Women offer prayers for Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Siriraj Hospital, where the king is being treated, in Bangkok on October 11, 2016.
  • Women hold portraits of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray for his health at Siriraj Hospital, where the king is being treated, in Bangkok on October 11, 2016.
  • Thai citizens started wearing pink en masse as soon as word spread that the colour has "auspicious power" for their beloved King's good health.
  • Many people wearing pink headed to the Siriraj Hospital to write get-well messages and pray for His Majesty to recover.
  • Many people wearing pink headed to the Siriraj Hospital to write get-well messages and pray for His Majesty to recover.
  • Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha along with his wife, plus military leaders, members of the National Council for Peace and Order, and Cabinet ministers, left well-wishes for the monarch at Sala Sahathai Samakhom in the Grand Palace, while wearing pink and yellow.
  • Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha along with his wife, plus military leaders, members of the National Council for Peace and Order, and Cabinet ministers, left well-wishes for the monarch at Sala Sahathai Samakhom in the Grand Palace, while wearing pink and yellow.
  • Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha along with his wife, plus military leaders, members of the National Council for Peace and Order, and Cabinet ministers, left well-wishes for the monarch at Sala Sahathai Samakhom in the Grand Palace, while wearing pink and yellow.

"His Majesty the King was very knowledgeable and masterful," he said. "He was also extremely patient, not giving things up easily. And more importantly, he worked well with others for the best outcomes."

Rattana Vejjanchai, a civil official, wished that the news of the King's death was not true but she would continue to follow in his footsteps - working for the people without thinking of herself.

State agencies including the Secretariate of the House of Representatives, praised His Majesty the King as a champion of democracy.

The Office of the Prime Minister issued an instruction to government officials nationwide to wear black to mourn the King for one year and fly flags at half mast for 30 days.

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