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Scandinavian Airlines rescue plane lands on the Malaysian island where the Norwegian king is in hospital

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

King Harald V, Europe's oldest monarch at 87, was hospitalized after falling ill while on holiday, the royal palace in Oslo said on Tuesday. There were no details about his illness. His son, Crown Prince Haakon, said his father's condition had improved and he needed rest before he was returned.

Norway's TV2 reported that a Scandinavian plane with the tail number LN-RPJ took off from Oslo Airport on Thursday. The airline's Boeing 737-700, which was previously used as a flying ambulance, landed in Langkawi on Friday.

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

The Norwegian Armed Forces said on Friday that it does not share information about ongoing operational missions, the armed forces said in a separate statement. “For the safety and health of His Majesty the King, it is particularly important for us to maintain this practice.”

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

Malaysian national news agency Bernama has reported that Harald was being treated at Sultanah Maliha Hospital in Langkawi. Citing unnamed sources, it was said he was staying in the hospital's Royal Suite. The hospital declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

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

Earlier, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said: “We worry if our king falls ill and is hospitalized, whether in Norway or abroad.”

“We should do everything we can to help ensure that the king comes 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 the king was taking a private trip abroad with his wife Queen Sonja, without specifying the destination or dates.

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

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

The monarch, who has been repeatedly seen on crutches in recent years, has been repeatedly ill in recent months, raising concerns about the head of state's health. In January, the palace said he was on sick leave until February 2 due to a respiratory infection.

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


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