Bangkok: Thailand`s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has died at the age of 88 after a long illness, the palace announced Thursday, ending a remarkable seven-decade reign and leaving a divided people bereft of a towering and rare figure of unity.
"Although the team of doctors treated him to the best of their ability, his condition deteriorated," the Royal Household Bureau said in a statement. "At 15:52 (0852 GMT) he died at Siriraj Hospital peacefully."
Shortly before 7 pm local time, all Thai television stations switched to a special announcement that began with black and white photographs of the king.
A man, dressed in a black suit and shirt, read out the same statement that was published minutes earlier.
The king`s death plunges Thailand into a deeply uncertain future.
Most Thais have known no other monarch and Bhumibol has been a unifying figure in an otherwise deeply polarised nation.
His 64-year-old son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, is his named successor.
Bhumibol`s death is a major test for the country`s generals, who seized power in 2014 vowing to restore stability after a decade of political chaos, a turbulent period exacerbated by the king`s declining health as jostling elites competed for power.
The military has deep links with the palace and many inside the kingdom saw the putsch as a move to ensure generals could stamp down on any instability during succession.