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Scandinavian Airlines medevac plane lands in Malaysian island where Norwegian king is hospitalized

by Staff

LANGKAWI, Malaysia (AP) — A Scandinavian Airlines medical evacuation plane arrived on Friday in Malaysia’s northern resort island of Langkawi, where the Norwegian king is in hospital and being treated for an infection.

King Harald V, Europe’s oldest monarch at 87, was hospitalized after he fell ill during a vacation, the royal palace in Oslo announced on Tuesday. There were no details of his illness. His son, Crown Prince Haakon, has said his father’s condition was improving and that he needed rest before being brought back.

Norwegian TV2 said that a Scandinavian aircraft with the tail number LN-RPJ took off from Oslo Airport on Thursday, The Boeing 737-700 airline, which has previously been used as a flying ambulance, landed in Langkawi on Friday.

The royal house said Friday in a brief statement that the monarch’s condition was improving but he would remain “in hospital for a few more days for treatment and rest before returning home.”

Norway’s Armed Forces said Friday that they do not share information about ongoing operational missions, the armed forces said in a separate statement. “It is particularly important for us to maintain this practice, for the safety and health of His Majesty the King.”

Norwegian TV2 said the same aircraft was used last summer for the medical evacuation of patients from Ukraine.

Malaysian national news agency Bernama has reported that Harald was undergoing treatment at the Sultanah Maliha Hospital in Langkawi. It cited unnamed sources as saying he was staying in the hospital’s Royal Suite. The hospital declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

“It is clear that his age means that it is good to treat this properly. They are very good at the hospital,” Crown Prince Haakon said Wednesday. “We don’t know when he will come home. We will have to decide on that later.” The palace said that “no decision has been made regarding his return home.”

Earlier, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that “we get worried when our king gets ill and is admitted to hospital, whether in Norway or abroad.”

“We should do what we can to contribute to getting the king home as quickly as possible and as healthy as possible,” he told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Two days before his birthday last week, Norwegian news agency NTB said that the king was undertaking a private trip abroad together with his wife Queen Sonja, without specifying the destination or dates.

Media in Norway said Harald traveled to Malaysia to celebrate his 87th birthday.

In the past, the Norwegian king has traveled privately in connection with his birthdays. When he turned 80, he and his family traveled to South Africa and they were on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to mark his 85th birthday, media in Norway reported.

The monarch, who has been seen using crutches in recent years, has been repeatedly ill in recent months, raising concern about the head of state’s health. In January, the palace said he was on sick leave until Feb. 2 because of a respiratory infection.

In December, he was admitted to a hospital with an infection and was treated with intravenous antibiotics. He also was hospitalized last August with a fever.

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Ng reported from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

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