Tonga in mourning over death of King George Tupou V

LONDON. March 19. KAZINFORM The South Pacific nation of Tonga is in mourning following the death of its king, George Tupou V, at the age of 63.

Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano has called for prayers and described this time as a moment when a "black storm cloud" is engulfing the country, BBC News reports.

A BBC correspondent says that flags are flying at half mast and civil servants have been told to wear black.

The king died at a hospital in Hong Kong on Sunday with his brother, Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka, by his side.

The cause of his death was not immediately known.

News quickly spread on the internet and was later confirmed in a broadcast on Tongan radio. Many Tongans paid tribute to their monarch.

The national radio station is playing religious music, according to the BBC's Siobhann Tighe in Tonga.

Despite the sense of shock, Tongans have known that the king was unwell. Last year, he had an operation in the US to remove his right kidney.

But he has been fit enough recently to make trips abroad. He even had an audience with the Pope at the Vatican last month.

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