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Thailand Prepares to Cremate King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Grand Ceremony

BANGKOK Ė The five-day state funeral for Thailandís revered late monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej started on Wednesday, with members of royal families from around the world expected to attend the program.

Thousands of Thai people from different provinces gathered near the capitalís Sanam Luang square for the five-day funeral, with the cremation scheduled to take place on Thursday evening.

Representatives from 42 countries, including the royal families of 24 countries, are to attend the last rites of Bhumibol, who died on Oct. 12, 2016 at the age of 88.

Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, Queen Silvia of Sweden and Prince Andrew the Duke of York, as well as the members of various Asian monarchies, are expected to be present to bid the Thai monarch farewell.

A spokesperson for the funeralís organizing committee told EFE that around 58,000 police officers are to maintain security during the five-day program in Bangkok and roads close to Sanam Luang will be closed for traffic.

Authorities have urged the mourners to dress in black and prohibited the use of tents.

Surachet Hakpan, head of the tourist police, told EFE that there are to be dozens of control posts around Sanam Luang and no dangerous activity had yet been reported in the area.

The police officer attended a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Prawt Wongsuwan on Wednesday to plan the police deployment, in which special arrangements were planned for the foreign guestsí security.

Some 250,000 to 300,000 people are expected to attend the funeral in Bangkok, where Buddhist monks and Hindu priests are to hold a vigil over the monarchís body at the Grand Palace on Wednesday.

According to The Nation daily, the casket with the sovereignís mortal remains will be transferred Wednesday night from the palace to the funeral monument in Sanam Luang, where a 53-meter-high (174 feet) structure has been created to symbolize the mountain Meru, abode of the gods in Hindu mythology.

According to legend, the Thai king was a reincarnation of the Hindu god Narayana (Vishnu) and will ascend to the sky atop the mythical bird Garuda.

On Thursday, the ceremonial urn, which does not contain the actual remains but only an inscription about the monarch, according to his wish, is to be transported in a large procession from the Grand Palace to the monument.

The cremation will take place at 10 pm in an electronic crematorium inside the tower representing Mount Meru.

The funeral will continue until Sunday through different ceremonies until the sovereignís ashes are deposited at the Rajabopit and Bowonniwet temple in the capital.

The public relations office of the royal family told EFE that official figures for the eventís expenses were unavailable, although some media outlets have put the number at 3 billion baht ($90 million).

Bhumibol, who assumed the title of Rama IX, reigned for seven decades and was immensely popular among his subjects, elevated to an almost divine status in the country.


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