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Thailand grieves for late king at cremation ceremony

The service comes at the end of a year of mourning for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn led one of the funeral processions
King Maha Vajiralongkorn led one of the funeral processions AP

Thai mourners have paid their respects at the cremation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej as a year of mourning for the much-loved monarch slowly comes to an end.

Long lines of mourners formed at official sites around Bangkok, the Thai capital, for the the cremation, the most important part of a funeral that spans five days.

Watched by tens of thousands of black-clad mourners, three separate processions carried a ceremonial urn representing Bhumibol's remains from the Dusit Maha Prasad Throne Hall to a newly built crematorium.

The king's body was taken to a newly built crematorium
The king's body was taken to a newly built crematorium AP

Although deceased Thai royals have traditionally been placed in urns during official mourning, Bhumibol - who died on October 13, 2016 aged 88 - opted to be laid in a coffin.

Nonetheless, it was the royal urn that was at the center of Thursday's processions, including one led by his son, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, in which the golden container was placed upon the Great Victory Chariot, pulled by hundreds of men dressed in red.

Built in 1795 and made of gilded and lacquered carved wood, the chariot has been used to carry the urns of royal family members dating to the start of the Chakri dynasty.

Black-clad mourners thronged the streets to pay their respects
Black-clad mourners thronged the streets to pay their respects AP

Bhumibol will be cremated within a golden edifice built over a year and representing mystical Mount Meru, where Buddhist and Hindu gods are believed to dwell.

Thais have braved tropical heat and torrential monsoon rains to secure street-side vantage points to witness the funeral, some camping out overnight.

The events are being carried on most Thai TV stations and can be watched at dozens of designated viewing areas across the country.

Replicas of the crematorium have also been placed in all of the country's 76 provinces, where people unable to travel can mourn.

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