Fatal private jet crash in Brazilian city - plane said to be carrying presidential candidate

SANTOS, Brazil (AFP, REUTERS) - A private jet crashed Wednesday into a gymnasium and two homes in the Brazilian city of Santos, claiming multiple lives, officials said.

According to Reuters, the jet was said to be carrying presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, who is running third in polls ahead of Brazil's October presidential election.

Television news network GloboNews said he had died without saying how it obtained the information.

"There are fatalities but we still do not have a number confirmed," a Sao Paulo state police spokeswoman told AFP, saying a fire had hampered access to the area.

Santos firefighters said there were at least 10 people injured, according to online news portal G1.

Police had initially said the aircraft was a helicopter, but the Brazilian air force said it was in fact a private plane, a Cessna 560XL, which is a medium-sized jet.

The plane took off from Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont airport and was headed to Guaruja airport on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, said aviation authority spokesman Pedro Luis Farcic.

"As it was preparing to land, the plane fell due to bad weather. Air traffic control then lost contact with the aircraft," he said.

TV images showed the destroyed plane amid piles of burning rubble, with a large column of smoke rising from several houses in the residential area.

Flames could be seen in the windows of some houses.

Local restaurant owner Thiago Fernandes said the impact had shattered the front windows at his business.

"I was working in the restaurant and there was a very loud boom, like nothing I had ever heard. All the front windows broke. Later they told us that an aircraft had fallen on the pool of a gymnasium a block away," he told Globo News TV.

Reuters said Campos, 49, is a former governor of northeastern Pernambuco state who had the support of about 10 per cent of voters in recent polls.

He has positioned himself as a business-friendly leftist and was a former ally of President Dilma Rousseff, who is seeking a second term.

The Brazilian Socialist Party source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Campos' running mate, Marina Silva, was not on board the plane.

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