SAO PAULO >> Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos died Wednesday when the small plane that was carrying him and several campaign officials plunged into a residential neighborhood in the port city of Santos, a City Hall official there said.
All seven people aboard the plane, including a campaign photographer and cameraman, a press advisor, as well as two pilots, died in the crash, City Hall press officer Patricia Fagueiro told The Associated Press.
In a statement on her official blog, incumbent President Dilma Rousseff declared three days of official mourning in honor of Campos and said she would suspend her campaign during that time. “All of Brazil is in mourning,” the statement said. “We have lost a great Brazilian.”
It was not immediately clear whether anyone on the ground was injured in the crash, which took place around 10 a.m. local time. The plane reportedly took off from Rio de Janeiro and was headed to the city of Guaruja.
The Brazilian Air Force reported the plane was a Cessna 560XL. Aeronautical authorities said the craft was attempting to land in bad weather.
Television broadcasts showed wreckage smoldering among smashed buildings in a residential neighborhood, and emergency response officials picking through the wreckage. Local media reported that a gym was damaged.
A press officer for Campos’ running mate, Marina Silva, said she is heading to Santos, and media reports said other top politicians were also on their way.
Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer called the accident a “tragedy for Brazilian politics.”
“Eduardo Campos was a politician of principles and values,” Temer wrote on his website. “Along with the entire country, I am shocked by this accident and by the loss for friends and family.”
Eliseu Gabriel, a Sao Paulo city councilman who heads Campos’ Brazilian Socialist Party, or PSB, said the party has yet to make any decisions on how to move forward, saying only the campaign was “stopping” for the moment.
“The campaign was about to start, and he had a big chance of making it to the second round” of Brazil’s two-round race, Gabriel said. “Eduardo Campos represented a great hope for a profound change in Brazilian politics.”
Opinion polls showed Campos running in third place, trailing Rousseff and another candidate in October elections.
Campos, age 49, was married and the father of five children. The heir of a political family, he served two terms as governor of the northeastern Pernambuco state.
Campos’ alliance with Silva, a popular politician who previously served as Environment Minister, was seen as giving as boost to his candidacy, although a recent poll showed the ticket trailing with 8 percent, compared with 36 for Rousseff.