"World's oldest person" dies in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR Sat Mar 10, 2007 1:28am GMT

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SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - A Salvadoran woman believed to be 128 years old and possibly the world's oldest person, has died, a family friend said on Friday.

Cruz Hernandez, who national birth records show was born on May 3, 1878, in central El Salvador, passed away in her sleep on Thursday, neighbour and close family friend Margarita Ascencio said by telephone. Hernandez died without being recognized by the Guinness Book of Records.

"She had been poorly for a few days, and yesterday, after eating a tamale and drinking some milk, she went to sleep and never woke up," Ascencio said.

Hernandez gave birth to 13 children and ended up with at least 60 grandchildren, 80 great-grandchildren and 25 great-great grandchildren.

Many who knew her attributed her longevity to her favourite drink of a beer with two raw eggs in it.

A midwife until she was 100 years old, Hernandez died at her home in the town of San Agustin, having spent her last months unable to speak and mainly dozing.

Some 200 guests celebrated her 128th birthday in May, and national birth registry officials sent Hernandez's documents to the Guinness World Records organisation last year, but never got a reply.

Guinness had American Emma Faust Tillman, 114, registered as the world's oldest person until she died in January.

The International Committee on Supercentenarians currently has 114-year-old Japanese woman Yone Minagawa listed as the world's oldest person.

According to Guinness, the longest any woman has lived is 122 years. The oldest man was 120 when he died in 1986.

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