Italy's Emma Morano, the world's oldest person, 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, who at 117 was believed to be the world's oldest person and the last to be born in the 19th century, has died according to Italian media reports.

He said he had last seen Ms Morano, who was just 12-years-old when the Titanic sank, on Friday when "she thanked me and held my hand", as she did every time he called on her.

The AP said Morano's personal doctor reported she passed away in her Italian home.

"She reached an incredible finish line", said Silvia Marchionini, mayor of the town of Verbania in northern Italy where Morano lived on the shores of Lake Maggiore.

"I eat two eggs a day, and that's it". Morano is nearly completely deaf and her sight is limited, but she is otherwise in good health.

"She was slowly fading away", Dr Bava said.

"'Either you agree to marry me or I will kill you'", Ms Morano said, recalling his proposal. "I was 26. We got married".

Morano's death, at the age of 117 years and 137 days, means there is no one living known to have been born before 1900.

She had clung to her independence, only taking on a full-time carer a couple of years ago, though she had not left her small two-room apartment for 20 years.

She outlived all her eight brothers and sisters, including one who died at 102. 'She was always very decisive'.

According to the Gerontology Research Group, a USA body that tracks supercentenarians, the oldest person after Morano is Jamaican woman Violet Brown, who turned 117 on March 10.

Her last birthday was marked by a party and concert recounting her life - from her experiences during the first and second world wars to her work in a factory making jute sacks, and her decision to separate from an abusive husband at a time when such action was frowned upon.

  • Rogelio Becker