The head of Venezuela's presidential guard says a heart attack killed a suffering Hugo Chavez, the Associated Press reports.
General Jose Ornella also said Chavez mouthed his desire to live during his final moments:
He couldn't speak, but he said it with his lips ... 'I don't want to die. Please don't let me die,' because he loved his country, he sacrificed himself for his country.
Venezuelan authorities have not said what kind of cancer Chavez had or specified exactly where tumors were removed.
More than 20 world leaders are expected to attend the funeral today, but there will be no burial as he will be embalmed.
Thousands flocked to the streets of Caracas to see the coffin of Chavez travel through the city to lie in state until Friday's funeral.
A look back at the life of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who has died at the age of 58 after a two-year battle with cancer.