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Thousands crowd Bangkok in run-up to King Bhumibol cremation

By
Sara Shayanian
Mourners wait in line as they make their way to the Royal Crematorium in Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday. Photo by Diego Azubel/EPA
Mourners wait in line as they make their way to the Royal Crematorium in Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday. Photo by Diego Azubel/EPA

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Thousands of mourners gathered in Thailand Wednesday to honor the country's former King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and begin a five-day run-up to his cremation ceremony.

About 20,000 mourners turned out Wednesday, Deputy National Police Chief Detnarong Sutthichanbancha told The Bangkok Post. Government spokesperson Sansern Kaewkamnerd said another 90,000 mourners may attend this week's remembrances.

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By the time he died at age 88 in October 2016, Bhumibol was the world's longest-serving monarch, having been coronated in 1940.

More than 12 million people visited the throne hall of Bangkok's royal Dusit palace, where the king's remains have been housed for the past year.

The five-day ceremony concludes the year-long mourning period. Mourners, following Buddhist tradition, dressed in black as they gathered to pay respects to the ninth king in the country's Chakri dynasty, known as Rama IX.

Mourners began gathering earlier this week and some camped out in heat and rain to claim a spot for the cremation, scheduled for Thursday night.

Thailand built a 174-foot, three-tiered golden crematorium for Bhumibol, which took 10 months to build.

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Thailand's foreign ministry said representatives from 42 countries will attend the ceremonies, including Prince Andrew of Britain and Queen Sofia of Spain.

Eighty-thousand security workers are set to guard the ceremony, and as many as 250,000 are expected to visit the Bangkok in the run-up to Thursday's cremation.

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