"A giant among men has passed away. This is as much India's loss as South Africa's. He was a true Gandhian,” the PMO said on twitter.

“It is a sad day for humanity today. World will never forget Nelson Mandela and his thoughts & teachings will live with us forever. Prayers,” the tweet said.

Nelson Mandela passes away

Mandela passed away peacefully at 20:50 (local time) on December 5.

Mandela would receive a full state funeral and flags would be flown at half-mast until the state funeral.

Madiba, as Mandela was fondly known, had been battling health issues in recent months, including a recurring lung infection that led to numerous hospitalizations.

Friends and relatives of the statesman had gathered at his Johannesburg home where "democratic South Africa's founding father" was said to be on his "deathbed".

Mandela, who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of decades of apartheid before becoming the country's first black leader, had faced several health scares.

His most recent hospital stay spanning over three months was his longest since he walked free in 1990. Mandela is widely respected for his role in fighting racism in South Africa, and for forgiving his former white captors after his release from prison.

(JPN)

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