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Scandinavian Airlines medevac plane lands in Langkawi, where Norway’s King Harald is hospitalised



LANGKAWI (AP): A Scandinavian Airlines medical evacuation plane arrived on Friday (March 1) in Pulau Langkawi, where the Norwegian king is in hospital and being treated for an infection.

King Harald V, Europe’s oldest monarch at 87, was hospitalised 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 (Feb 29), The Boeing 737-700 airline, which has previously been used as a flying ambulance, landed in Langkawi on Friday.

The Norwegian Defence Force reportedly declined to confirm if the plane will pick up King Harald. Norwegian TV2 said the same aircraft was used last summer for the medical evacuation of patients from Ukraine.

A file picture of King Harald V of Norway leaving the Notre Dame cathedral after attending at the funeral of the Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, in Luxembourg, on May 4, 2019. Norwegian royal officials say that King Harald V of Norway has been hospitalized with an infection while on vacation in Malaysia. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

The royal palace in Oslo said late Thursday that “the aim is that the king can return home by plane in a few days” but did not say when that would be.

Malaysian national news agency Bernama reported that King 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.

Prince Haakon said Wednesday the king was in good spirits.

“It is clear that his age means that it is good to treat this properly. They are very good at the hospital,” Haakon told Norwegian reporters.

“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 would be undertaking a private trip abroad together with his wife Queen Sonja, without specifying the destination or dates.

Media in Norway have reported that Harald travelled to Malaysia to celebrate his 87th birthday.

In the past, the Norwegian king has travelled privately in connection with his birthdays. When he turned 80, he and his family travelled 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 hospitalised last August with a fever. – AP

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