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RECIFE, Brazil (UPDATED) – More than 160,000 mourners turned out to pay their respects to Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos here Sunday, August 17, after the popular socialist politician’s death in a plane crash last week.
A burst of fireworks marked his burial after a packed crowd of tens of thousands of people accompanied his body, carried in a flag-draped fire truck, through the streets to a family vault in Recife’s largest cemetery.
The burial took place at 6:35 pm (2135 GMT) after being delayed more than an hour by the throngs of mourners, many of whom shouted “Eduardo, warrior for the Brazilian people!” during the procession.
Earlier in the day, a line stretching some 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) queued to file past Campos’s coffin outside Recife’s local government headquarters to say a final farewell.
President Dilma Rousseff was in attendance as ceremonies got under way with an open-air mass.
Campos, 49, died when his campaign jet slammed into houses in Santos city in bad weather on Wednesday, August 13, killing all seven people on board and setting buildings alight.
Brazil’s air force, which is in charge of the investigation, has said that the black box recovered from the wreckage failed to record the final flight.
“At the moment of the accident, all of the victims were united in the same ideals,” Fernando Saburido, archbishop of Olinda and Recife, said at the ceremony.
Election season begins
Campos had been running third in opinion polls for Brazil’s October election, with campaign season formally beginning Tuesday, August 19.
His party is expected to announce the name of its new candidate Wednesday, August 20, according to its president Roberto Amaral.
Campos’s running mate, 56-year-old environmentalist Marina Silva, is widely expected to be named in his place, according to local press.
Silva, an evangelical Christian who appeals to both religious conservatives and the left, could radically shake up the race if she replaces him, leveraging her compelling personal story and broad-based appeal.
Born into a poor family of rubber tappers in the Amazon, Silva only learned to read and write at 16 years old, the start of a meteoric rise to become a figurehead of the country’s environmental movement.
Speculation has centered on Campos’s widow and fellow socialist Beto Albuquerque as potential vice-presidential running mates.
A popular former governor of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Campos was married with five children.
His wife and children plus Silva rode in the fire truck which took Campos’s body to be buried alongside his grandfather, Miguel Arraes, himself a revered local politician in northeastern Brazil.
Around 250 police officers were on duty for Sunday’s ceremonies, which began at 10:30 am (1330 GMT).
Rousseff, who leads the polls for October’s elections, was booed by sections of the crowd as she arrived for the mass.
Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and several ministers accompanied Rousseff.
Lula, a close friend of the family, wept as he embraced Campos’s widow Renate after the mass, followed by Rousseff and the current second-place presidential contender, Aecio Neves.
Rousseff and Lula left Recife before the burial. – Rappler.com