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BANGKOK – World leaders and Thai people alike are mourning King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died Thursday at age 88, after 70 years on the throne. The world's longest-reigning monarch, he was known as a unifying force in Thailand and a king devoted to helping his people:
DANAIWUT WIROONPITI, 26, a photographer at the Grand Palace in Bangkok:
"Since I was young I've seen him work really hard, and now it's hard to explain. I feel numb inside. He's the center of all Thai people. It's like we lost the main pillar of our lives, the person who holds us together. I can't hold my tears. I can't help it. ... I knew this day would come and I tried to prepare myself for it, but still I couldn't help it. But on another thought, I'm happy for him and relieved that he no longer has to suffer."
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
"I had the honor of calling on His Majesty the King during my visit to Thailand in 2012, and recall his grace and warmth, as well as his deep affection and compassion for the Thai people. As the revered leader and only monarch that most Thais have ever known, His Majesty was a tireless champion of his country's development and demonstrated unflagging devotion to improving the standard of living of the Thai people. With a creative spirit and a drive for innovation, he pioneered new technologies that have rightfully received worldwide acclaim. His Majesty leaves a legacy of care for the Thai people that will be cherished by future generations."
THEERA YING SOMBAT, 32, a motorcycle taxi driver at the Grand Palace:
"My heart just sank, I was nervous and sad. Nothing like this has ever happened before. I have been following the news since yesterday. Now I don't even want to go out with my friends. No partying for sure. I don't even feel like working. I think I will go home soon."
JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE:
"I remember King Bhumibol as a highly gifted and gentle person. ... As a spiritual support for the people, His Majesty has led Thailand's remarkable development and advancement of the people's living standard. ... The king's great contribution in deepening friendship between Japan and Thailand will be remembered by all Japanese people."
INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI:
"People of India and I join the people of Thailand in grieving the loss of one of the tallest leaders of our times, King Bhumibol Adulyadej."
SRIRAT PONLOP, a jewelry shop owner at the Grand Palace:
"I'm deeply saddened. Everybody loves him. We love our king. ... He has done a lot of good things for us. I pray and meditate for him. I know that our country is shaken by this news I know this would happen, but it's really hard."
MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK:
"King Bhumibol was a towering presence whose contribution to Thailand, and the rest of the region, is beyond words. We join the Thai people in mourning his loss."
U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THAILAND GLYN DAVIES:
"His Majesty lived a long and glorious life. Americans celebrate him because he personified the close connection between our two nations and peoples. ... Through his patience, perseverance and selfless dedication to duty, King Bhumibol embodied Thailand's Ten Kingly Virtues. This beautiful and unique land is touched today by a great and profound loss."
GAEWKARN FUANGTONG, 39, a humanitarian worker in Bangkok's financial district:
"There is no word to explain my feelings right now. ... I lost one of the most important people in my life. I feel like I haven't done enough for him. I should have done more. I will do good, do better, for his sake."
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY:
"My sincere personal condolences to the royal family and the people of Thailand on the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. His Majesty guided the Kingdom of Thailand with dignity, dedication and vision throughout his life. He will be greatly missed."
PATCHARATIDA JAMSRIJUN, 25, an office worker in Bangkok's financial district:
"I just heard about the news. My heart sank. I don't know what to do. And we don't know what's going to happen. I want to know how the country will go from now. Who will take his place and what will happen."
SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER STEFAN LOFVEN:
"My condolences to the royal family but also to the whole Thai people. King Bhumibol has meant a lot to the Thai people. That one can notice when in Thailand."