Brazil mourns presidential candidate Campos

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil is in mourning after the death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, 49, who was killed in a plane crash on Wednesday.

President Dilma Rousseff declared three days of mourning and halted all campaign activities for the presidential elections on 5 October.

Mr Campos, of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), had been running third in opinion polls.

It is not yet clear who will replace him as presidential candidate.

'Ball of fire'

Mr Campos was on his way from Rio de Janeiro to the city of Guaruja when the Cessna 560XL he was travelling in went down into a residential area of the port city of Santos.

The Brazilian Air Force said the plane crashed as it was preparing to land, adding that bad weather may have been to blame for the the accident.

Aldo Galeano, the police officer leading the investigation in to the crash, said that air traffic control had asked the pilot not to land because of high winds and rain.

He said the plane had flown a loop over the nearby city of Santos waiting for conditions to improve when it ran into trouble.

"We think the pilot looked for a place to make an emergency landing, an isolated area, near a swimming pool, but the plane exploded," Mr Galeano said.

Experts are trying to determine if the Cessna exploded on impact or already in the air.

Mr Campos, four members of his campaign team and the two pilots all died in the explosion.

Three homes were set alight by the impact and a thick plume of smoke rose from the area. The plane narrowly missed a gym and a kindergarten.

Miriam Rodrigues Martinez, who lives near the crash site, told local media the plane "looked like a ball of fire falling from the sky".

"At first I thought it was a meteorite, not a plane," she said.

Forensic experts are at the scene and police are trying to locate the plane's flight data recorders.

'Promising future'

President Dilma Rousseff, who is leading in the polls ahead of October's election, said the country was reeling from the death of "a promising young politician".

She said Mr Campos had had "an extremely promising future ahead".

Ms Rousseff and the other main candidate, Aecio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, have put their campaign on hold for three days.

Under Brazilian law, Mr Campos's Socialist Party has 10 days to choose someone to replace him as presidential candidate.

Analysts say Mr Campos's running mate, Marina Silva, could step in.

Ms Silva is a popular politician and former environment minister who allied herself with Mr Campos ahead of the election.

But some members of the Socialist Party say they would prefer to someone from within their own party ranks to replace him.

Ms Silva has not given any official statements except to say she was deeply saddened by the death of Mr Campos, whom she had "learned to respect, admire and feel confidence in his attitudes and his ideals in life".

Visibly moved, she sent her condolences to Mr Campos's wife and his five children.

She said she wanted to remember him just like she had seen him earlier on the day of his accident, "full of joy, full of dreams, and filled with a sense of duty".

Mr Campos will be buried in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco state of which he was governor from 2007 to April 2014. A date for the funeral has not yet been confirmed.

Analysis: Gary Duffy, BBC Brazil, Sao Paulo

For the moment Brazil is still absorbing the shock of the sudden death of a charismatic presidential candidate, who while third in the polls, had the potential to have a bigger impact in October's election than this might have suggested.

The night before his death, Eduardo Campos appeared live on the country's main TV news programme, Jornal Nacional. He gave a poised and confident performance as he was quizzed by two presenters.

Analysts say Brazilian political life will be the poorer for the loss of a politician who, along with his running mate Marina Silva, aimed to offer a third way between the governing Workers' Party and their traditional opponents, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party.

And if he might not have reached the final round of voting in the 2014 election, he was certainly seen as a promising candidate for the future.

Eduardo Campos leaves a big gap in Brazilian politics and many questions about what the impact of his tragic death will be, but for the moment the consensus among both friends and opponents is to show solidarity with his young family and respect for his record.

Comments (1)

Will Mugabe halt campaings when Mogiza die ??????

fury - 21 August 2014

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