October 14, 2007 / 8:15 AM / 12 years ago

Thai king improving in hospital: bulletin

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, was improving in hospital a day after being treated for eight hours, the palace said on Sunday.

Hundreds of people wearing yellow shirts — the color of the king’s birthday in Thailand, where each day is associated with a color — flocked to the Bangkok hospital to wish him a speedy recovery.

The king, who will be 80 in December, was taken to hospital on Saturday complaining of weakness in his right side. The palace said in a statement he will remain under treatment “for a further period”.

It gave few details of Bhumibol’s ailment, although a statement on Saturday said he had a blood clot in his leg, weakness in his right side and tests showed a slight lessening of the flow of blood to his brain.

On Sunday, it quoted doctors as saying his blood pressure and breathing were normal and the arm which had felt weakness from shoulder to elbow had gained strength.

Witnesses said hundreds of people who converged on the hospital carried royal flags and the picture of the King.

The palace asked people to write their wishes for the king on special books left at city halls across the country, as Queen Sirikit went to visit her husband in the hospital. State television said people across the country had been flocking to city halls to sign the books.

“I hope the King recovers quickly,” said Wannee Klaiprapai, 58, one of the hundreds gathered around the hospital. “He is the father of Thailand and all his children want their father to get well very soon.”

Prime Minister Surauyd Chulanont visited King Bhumibol on Saturday night and other top officials followed on Sunday, including former army chief and prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, now head of the council which advises the King.

Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who led a bloodless coup last September and is now a deputy prime minister following his retirement as army chief, was another visitor.

Bespectacled and quietly spoken, King Bhumibol has been a powerful force for national unity during a series of military coups and constitutional experiments and is genuinely revered in Thailand.

In June, the country celebrated his 60th year on the throne.

“I heard the television report last night, so I came here at eight o’clock this morning. I wish the King a good recovery,” said 74-year-old Sia-kiang Navakarnpisut.

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