A Scandinavian Airlines plane lands on a Malaysian island, where the Norwegian king is being treated in hospital

LANGKAWI, Malaysia – A Scandinavian Airlines medical evacuation plane arrived Friday at the resort island of Langkawi in northern Malaysia, where the Norwegian king is in hospital and being treated for an infection.

King Harald V was the oldest European king at 87 years old He was hospitalized after falling ill while on vacationThe Royal Palace in Oslo announced on Tuesday. No details were provided about his illness. His son, Crown Prince Haakon, said his father's condition was improving and that he needed to rest before being brought back.

A Scandinavian plane with tail number LN-RPJ took off from Oslo Airport on Thursday, and the airline's Boeing 737-700, previously used as a flying ambulance, landed in Langkawi on Friday, Norwegian broadcaster TV2 said.

On Friday, the Royal House said in a brief statement that the king’s condition was improving but that he would remain “in the 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. “It is particularly important for us to maintain this practice, for the safety and health of His Majesty the King.”

Norwegian TV2 said that the same plane was used last summer in the medical evacuation of patients from Ukraine.

Malaysia's national news agency Bernama reported that Harald was undergoing treatment at Sultana Mleiha Hospital in Langkawi. It quoted unnamed sources as saying that he was staying in the royal wing of the hospital. The hospital declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

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

Earlier, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Sture said: “We are concerned when our king becomes ill and is hospitalized, whether in Norway or abroad.”

“We must do what we can to contribute to bringing the king home as quickly and as healthy as possible,” he told Norwegian radio NRK.

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

Media in Norway said that Harald traveled to Malaysia to celebrate his eighty-seventh birthday.

In the past, the King of Norway traveled privately on his birthdays. Media in Norway reported that when he turned eighty, he and his family traveled to South Africa and were on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean to celebrate his eighty-fifth birthday.

The king, who has been seen using crutches in recent years, has fallen ill repeatedly in recent months, raising concern 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 taken to hospital last August due to 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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