A senior Hong Kong media figure has claimed North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is dead, as speculation intensifies about his condition.

The vice-director of Hong Kong Satellite Television Shijan Xingzou said she had a “very solid source” who told her the North Korean leader is dead, a claim that sparked an online frenzy among her 15 million Chinese followers on social media platform, Weibo.

A number of reports from China suggest Kim was undergoing heart surgery when a nervous physician inserted a stent incorrectly, whilst in Japan a national newspaper has claimed Kim is in a “vegetative state” following an operation on his heart.

The Chinese medic who spoke anonymously to the weekly Shukan Gendel newspaper in Japan also claimed that Kim had collapsed whilst clutching his chest, with a nearby doctor performing CPR to keep him alive before he reached a hospital.

It is believed that Kim, who has not been seen in public for over two weeks, became severely ill because of delayed surgery, prompting China to send a team of medical experts to offer their help.

His father, Kim Jong-il, died of a heart attack in 2011, with news of his death not being reported until a few days later.

South Korean intelligence officials have said they believe Kim is alive however, but would not be making any comment on his condition. A Seoul newspaper tied to North Korea, Daily NK, reported that Kim was simply recovering from surgery on April 12.

US president Donald Trump also downplayed suggestions that Kim is gravely ill, saying such reports are “incorrect”.

Kim, 36, had once avoided public appearances for a 40-day period, but given the speculation internationally, he is expected to make a public appearance at the earliest possible date, provided the rumours of his demise are false.