Roger Agnelli, the former head of the Brazilian mining giant Vale, has died after his private jet crashed into a residential building in Sao Paulo, local media reported.

Agnelli, his wife and two of his children were among seven killed when his aircraft slammed into the building around 18:20 GMT on Saturday, minutes after taking off from an airport in northern Sao Paulo, an aviation official told Reuters news agency.

Agnelli was credited with turning Vale into a major global success, making it Brazil’s biggest exporter and the world’s largest iron ore producer.

"The airplane fell with seven people onboard and all died on the spot. We are looking for other possible victims. The residence's owner was rescued," firefighters reported.

Aviation authorities confirmed that Agnelli was the owner of the plane but could not provide a passenger list.

Sources said Agnelli was travelling to a wedding ceremony of a nephew in Rio de Janeiro with his wife Andréia, son João, daughter Anna Carolina, and their two spouses.

Brazilian Senator Aecio Neves wrote on Twitter: "My family and I are shocked over the tragedy that befell my friend Roger Agnelli and his family."

The weather was clear at the time of the crash.

Known for his discipline and feisty nature, Agnelli clinched the top job at Vale in July 2001 after 19 years as a corporate and investment banker with Banco Bradesco SA, a major Vale shareholder.

He instilled a culture of meritocracy that helped make Vale Brazil's leading exporter.

To friends and foes, the key to Agnelli's success was accurately predicting the rise of China as a major minerals consumer, a crucial wager in turning Vale, a former bloated, state-controlled firm, into a global powerhouse.

"He was a visionary that corporate Brazil will miss badly," said Lawrence Pih, who for decades ran the flour mill Grupo Pacífico SA and sat on the board at the Sao Paulo Federation of Industries with Agnelli.

In Harvard Business Review's ranking of the world's best-performing chief executive officers published in February 2013, Agnelli came fourth, only behind Apple Inc's Steve Jobs, Amazon.com Inc's Jeff Bezos and Samsung Group's Yun Jong-Yong.

He was the top mining CEO in the 100-executive ranking. Agnelli earned the spot in the Harvard ranking after racking up a consolidated return of 934 percent during his tenure at Vale, whose market value more than doubled in the period.

Source: Agencies