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The Thai king, the world's longest-serving monarch, has made his first public appearance since being hospitalized more than a month ago. The appearance is expected to be widely welcomed after weeks of concern over the monarch's health.
King Bhumipol Adulyadej, wearing a light blue short-sleeved shirt, made the public appearance Friday in a motorized wheelchair. He received emotional greetings from hundreds of well wishers at the hospital, many of them in tears.
The king, aged 81, was admitted on September 19 with fever, fatigue, and lack of appetite.
The palace, in daily reports, said the king was in no danger, adding recently he was recovering from a lung inflammation. In a statement Wednesday it described the king's condition as stable and that he is physically stronger.
The king has reigned for more than 60 years and is deeply revered by Thais.
Professor Somphob Manarangsan, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, says the news of the king's improvement is welcome.
"There will be more clear evidence showing the improvement, the recovery of the health condition of one of the most very respected kings of the people of the country - that will be good news I think," the professor said.
The issue of the king's health is highly sensitive in Thailand. Rumors surrounding his medical condition last week triggered a sharp sell-off of stocks. The government is investigation to find the source of the rumors.
In 2007 King Bhumipol was hospitalized for a minor stroke. He has also received treatment for a heart condition. Last December, he was unable to deliver his annual birthday address to the nation due to health concerns.
Over the years the king has played a stabilizing role in the nation's often fractious politics. On several occasions he has used his significant influence to ease tensions or call on political adversaries to end their disputes.