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Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej dead at age 88

By Amy R. Connolly
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Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej dead at age 88
A file picture dated December 2, 2004, shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej inspecting the royal parade of honor in Bangkok. A Royal Palace statement said that King Bhumibol, the world's longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, has died aged 88 in Siriraj hospital on October 13, 2016. Photo by Vinai Dithajohn/epa

BANGKOK, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned over the country for more than 70 years, died Thursday after an extended illness. He was 88.

The Royal Palace said Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch since his 1946 coronation, died at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. Officials did not give a cause. Officials said he "passed away peacefully" at 3.52 p.m. local time. The government declared a year of mourning.

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Although he had no formal political role, Bhumibol was a unifying figure through the nation and widely respected by a majority of Thais. He had been hospitalized for many years, making only limited public appearances.

"It's a great loss to Thai people," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is expected to become Thailand's new king.

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