BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) — Prime Minister David Thompson of Barbados died early Saturday of pancreatic cancer at his private residence in St. Philip, according to a government statement.

He was 48.

Mr. Thompson, who became the youngest ever elected prime minister of the Caribbean nation of 270,000 people in January 2008, had been ill since March and traveled to New York several times for treatment. He would not discuss his condition until last month, when his doctor announced that Mr. Thompson had pancreatic cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy.

In a radio address to the nation last month, Mr. Thompson said he was shuffling his cabinet to pass many of his responsibilities to other ministers. He said he chose the radio for his speech rather than television so islanders would focus on his message, not his appearance.

Mr. Thompson’s attorney general and deputy, Freundel Stuart, was sworn in Saturday as the new prime minister after his nomination by local lawmakers and his appointment by the governor-general of Barbados, Sir Clifford Husbands.

The prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Denzil Douglas, called Mr. Thompson’s death “a loss to not only the people of Barbados, but also the people of the Caribbean.”

Trained as a lawyer, Mr. Thompson led his Democratic Labor Party to victory in 2008 elections, defeating an effort by the Barbados Labor Party to win a fourth consecutive term. The party holds 21 of the 30 seats in the Parliament of Barbados, the easternmost Caribbean island.

The next elections are scheduled for 2012 on the island, which won independence in 1966 and has overcome the decline of its once powerful sugar industry to grow relatively wealthy through high-end tourism, light industry and offshore financial services.

Mr. Thompson is survived by his wife, Marie-Josephine Mara, and their three daughters.

A version of this article appeared in print on October 24, 2010, on page A29 of the New York edition of The New York Times

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