The prime minister of Barbados, David Thompson, has died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 48.
He died at his home in St Philip on the Caribbean island. He had been ill since March and had travelled several times to New York for treatment.
Mr Thompson was elected prime minister in January 2008.
Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands has appointed the attorney general and deputy PM Freundel Stuart to head the government until elections in 2012.
Denzil Douglas, the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, said Mr Thompson's death was a loss "not only the people of Barbados, but also the people of the Caribbean".
David John Howard Thompson, the sixth prime minister of Barbados, was born on 25 December 1961 in England but grew up in Barbados.
After a career in law he entered politics, winning a by-election for the Democratic Labour Party in 1987. He became head of the DLP in the early 1990s.
In the 2008 election, he led the DLP back to government, ending the Barbados Labour Party's 13-year run in power.