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September 19, 2017

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Brazil race is in disarray following candidate death

SANTOS, Brazil -- Brazil's presidential race is in stunned disarray after one of the top three contenders was killed on the campaign trail when a small plane carrying him and aides crashed into a residential area in this port city.

Socialist politician Eduardo Campos and the six other people aboard the aircraft died in the accident Wednesday, which came less than two months ahead of the Oct. 4 presidential election.

President Dilma Rousseff, who opinion polls say leads the race, declared three days of official mourning for Campos and said she was suspending her campaign during that time. The other main candidate, Aecio Neves, also said he was putting his campaign on hold.

"Brazil is in mourning and reeling from a death that took the life of a promising young politician," Rousseff said in a solemn address. She said Campos had had "an extremely promising future ahead."

The 49-year-old scion of a powerful political family from the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Campos was a fixture on the Brazilian political scene since his youth, having served as state and federal representative and also as Pernambuco's governor. He had been allied with Rousseff and her Workers Party but broke away ahead of the presidential campaign. Opinion polls had said Campos was running in third place, behind Rousseff and Neves.

Campos was married to his high school sweetheart and the two had five children, the youngest of whom was born in January with Down Syndrome.

The candidate, four members of his campaign staff and two pilots were traveling from Rio de Janeiro to the city of Guaruja when the Cessna 560XL went down in nearby Santos around 10 a.m..

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