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Maduro: Chavez body to be permanently displayed

Tens of thousands of grieving Venezuelans line up, for miles, in the streets of Caracas to pay their respects to the open coffin of Hugo Chavez.  ITV's Matt Frei reports. 

Hugo Chavez's body will be permanently displayed in a special tomb, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday on state television.

Maduro said the official state funeral will begin Friday at 10:30 a.m. ET. Some 30 heads of state along with delegations from 50 countries are expected to attend. Following the ceremony, Chavez's body will lie in state for seven additional days, so that more people can see it.


Leo Ramirez / AFP - Getty Images

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez across the Americas mourn his death.

People have been waiting up to 12 hours to pay their respects in a line that snakes for more than a mile.

Maduro also announced that Chavez's body will be preserved in the same manner as that of Russia's Vladimir Lenin or China's Mao Zedong, so "he will always be with the people."

Visitors will be able to view Chavez's body in a special tomb now under construction in a Caracas museum devoted to his populist revolution. The site is called el Museo Histórico Militar de Caracas or Cuartel 4 de Febrero.

Maduro again called for peace and calm and thanked the public for respecting the solemnity of this occasion.

Friday afternoon, the parliament will hold a special session to swear in Maduro as acting president. Elections are expected to take place within 30 days.

Chavez, the socialist leader who ran Venezuela for 14 years, lost his two-year battle with cancer Tuesday. His illness was first detected in his pelvic region in 2011. He was 58.

NBC News' Mary Murray, Mark Potter and Roxanne Garcia contributed to this report.