Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has died, his vice-president has announced.
Mr Chavez had not appeared in public since he returned to Venezuela last month after cancer treatment in Cuba.
An emotional Nicolas Maduro made the announcement on Tuesday evening, flanked by leading Venezuelan political and military leaders.
Earlier, he said the 58-year-old Venezuelan leader had a new, severe respiratory infection and had entered “his most difficult hours”.
He also announced the government had expelled two US diplomats from the country for spying on Venezuela’s military.
Mr Maduro said Mr Chavez had died “after battling a tough illness for nearly two years”.
He said he had no doubt that Mr Chavez’s cancer, first diagnosed in 2011, had been induced by foul play by Venezuela’s enemies.
Venezuelan radio reported that military had been deployed across the country.
Under the constitution, the head of Venezuela’s Congress, Diosdado Cabello, will assume the interim presidency before an election is held.