[BBC] – The Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, 49, has died in a plane crash, party members and local officials say. The plane carrying Mr Campos came down in bad weather in a residential area of the port city of Santos, in Sao Paulo state.
Local reports say four other passengers and the two pilots were also killed. President Dilma Rousseff has declared three days of national mourning and cancelled campaign events.
“The whole of Brazil is in mourning,” Ms Rousseff said in a statement.
“We lost a great Brazilian today, Eduardo Campos. We lost a great comrade,” she added, calling her rival a “great political leader”.
Ms Rousseff’s Vice President, Michel Temer, also expressed his regret over the death of Mr Campos, who had been running third in the polls for October’s election.
He said there were “no words to describe the tragedy that has befallen Brazilian politics today”.
“Eduardo Campos was a politician with principles and values passed down through his family and carried with dignity and honour throughout his career in parliament and the executive,” he added in a statement. The BBC’s Wyre Davies in Rio de Janeiro says Brazil has been rocked by the news.
Mr Campos’ family had actively opposed Brazil’s military rule (1964-1985).
A married father of five children, he served two terms as governor of the north-eastern Pernambuco state.
His vice-presidential candidate, Marina Silva, a popular politician and a former government minister, was reportedly meant to have been on the plane with him but decided not to travel. Mr Campos was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Guaruja airport, outside Sao Paulo, when it hit bad weather, aviation authority spokesman Pedro Luis Farcic said.
According to air force officials, air traffic control lost contact with the plane after it was unable to land at Guaruja due to bad weather.
It plunged into several houses in a densely-populated neighbourhood, sending plumes of smoke into the air.
Local residents said the sky was cloudy and it was raining at the time of the crash.
All seven people aboard the plane, including a campaign photographer and cameraman, a press adviser, as well as two pilots, died in the crash, City Hall press officer Patricia Fagueiro told the Associated Press news agency.
Police and emergency workers are at the scene in Santos, 70km (43 miles) south-east of Brazil’s biggest city, Sao Paulo. The Brazilian Air Force reported the plane was a Cessna 560XL.