Hospitalised Thai King Bhumibol makes rare public appearance

This file picture taken on Dec 2, 2007, shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej reviewing an honor guard as a part of the celebration to commemorate his 80th birthday at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok. Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the worl
This file picture taken on Dec 2, 2007, shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej reviewing an honor guard as a part of the celebration to commemorate his 80th birthday at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok. Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-serving monarch, has made a rare public appearance outside the Bangkok hospital where he was admitted last month. -- PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) - Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-serving monarch, has made a rare public appearance outside the Bangkok hospital where he was admitted last month.

The 86-year-old king, who has suffered from a series of ailments in recent years, is treated as a near-deity in Thailand and his health is a subject of public concern.

Bhumibol was briefly escorted into the grounds of Siriraj hospital in a wheelchair by doctors, nurses and officials Saturday to sit on the bank of the Chao Phraya river and pay homage to a statue of his father Prince Mahidol.

The event was shown on public broadcaster Thai PBS.

Well-wishers bowed before the monarch and chanted "Long live the king" in what the broadcaster said was Bhumibol's first public appearance since he was rushed to hospital in October from his coastal palace in the southern seaside resort of Hua Hin.

The king underwent an operation to remove his gall bladder after tests revealed it was swollen. Last week he was suffering from an inflamed colon, according to the Royal Household Bureau. He has remained in hospital since.

The bureau has not released any further updates on the king's health.

Bhumibol had left the Siriraj in September after a stay of almost six weeks for a check-up, before being sent back with the gall bladder problem.