Brazilian Presidential Candidate Eduardo Campos Dies in Plane Crash

Image: Brazilian presidential candidate killed in plane crash
File photo of Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos during an event in Brasilia, Brazil, on October 5th, 2013. Campos was killed on August 13th 2014 when a small private plane crashed in a residential area in Santos, in the state of Sao Paulo. Fernando Bizerra Jr. / EPA

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A plane carrying Eduardo Campos, a front runner for the Brazilian presidential elections, crashed on Wednesday morning in the coastal city of Santos.

Brazil's Ministry of Aeronautics confirmed to NBC News that the leader of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) was one of the seven people killed in the plane crash.

View of damaged buildings where an aircraft crashed, in the residential area Na Rua Vahia de Abreu in Santos, Sao Paulo state, Brazil, Aug. 13.Douglas Aby Saber / EPA

According to Brazilian air authorities, Campos' private jet had been traveling from Rio de Janeiro’s domestic airport to Guarujá airport. Air traffic control lost contact with the small jet as it was preparing to land in bad weather.

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Campos, who led the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), was running in third place behind incumbent Dilma Rouseff and Aécio Neves, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party. A public opinion poll released by Ipobe on August 7th showed Campos winning 9 percent of the votes in the first round of elections; President Dilma Rouseff was unchanged at 38%.

In order for a candidate to be elected in the first round they must obtain more than 50 percent of the votes. This poll indicated that Rouseff was not going to pass in the first round and would likely face Neves in the second round.

Campos' running mate, former senator Marina Silva was not on the plane, a PSB source told Reuters. It's unclear at this time whether or not she will run in Campos' place.

Both Rouseff and Neves announced that they would pause their presidential campaign for a period of mourning and both released statements. "All of Brazil is in mourning," expressed Rouseff "Today we lost a great Brazilian, Eduardo Campos. We lost a great companion."

Neves took to Twitter to express his disbelief: "It's with great sadness that I received the news of the accident that killed the former governor and my friend Eduardo Campos. The loss is irreparable and incomprehensible. At this time, my family and I join in prayer for Eduardo's family, his friends, and millions of Brazilians, who surely share the same confusion and regret."

News of Campos' death caused local financial markets to plunge and threw Brazil's October elections into disarray.

The former Pernambuco governor had just celebrated his 49th birthday three days earlier on August 10th. He leaves behind a wife and five kids.

He was the grandson of Miguel Arraes – a democratically elected governor from the state of Pernambuco who was overthrown in the 1964 military coup. In sad coincidence, Campos died the same day as his grandfather who passed on August 13, 2005.