Italian Emma Morano, last known survivor of 19th century, dies at 117

"How does my hair look", she asked before blowing out the candles on her 117th birthday cake a year ago.

Emma Morano, believed to be the world's oldest person and the last to be born in the 19th century, has reportedly died aged 117.

Dr Carlo Bava told The Associated Press that Ms Morano's carer had called him to say she had died on Saturday while sitting in an armchair at her home in Verbania, a town on Italy's Lake Maggiore. "She thanked me and held my hand" as usual, he said.

Born on November 29, 1899, she was named as the world's oldest known person in May 2016.

Morano's doctor, who lives a few blocks away from his patient, had been her physician for almost a quarter of a century.

"She had an extraordinary life, and we will always remember her strength to help us move forward in life", the mayor of Verbania was quoted as saying. While Morano had been increasingly spending more time sleeping and less time speaking in recent weeks, she had eaten her daily raw egg and biscuits that day, he said. She was 117 years old.

He said she had been her usual chatterbox self until a few weeks ago. "I think I was one of the first in Italy to do that", she said. "She forgets nothing", Yamile Vergara, her nurse for over 40 years, said at the time.

"He told me: "If you're lucky you marry me, or I'll kill you". She outlived all of her family members, namely eight brothers and sisters. Though they separated in 1938, they remained married until he died in 1978.

According to the US-based Gerontology Research Group (GRG), Morano ceded the crown of the world's oldest human being to Jamaican Violet Brown, who was born on March 10, 1900. Since then, she supported herself, lived alone, and worked in a jute factory until the age of 65.

  • Leroy Wright