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World's oldest person dies at age 117

Emma Morano 117 years old blows candles on the day of her birthday in Verbania Italy

Emma Morano blows candles in the day of her birthday in Verbania, .

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.

Her doctor, Carlo Bava, said he had called her caretaker, only to be told that she had passed away on Saturday afternoon while sitting in an armchair at her home in Verbania on the shores of Lake Maggiore.

Bava said he had last seen his patient on Friday when 'she thanked me and held my hand, ' as she did every time he called on her.

Emma Morano was born on 29 November 1899 in the Piedmont region of Italy.

Dr Bava also lives in Verbania and had been her doctor for almost a quarter of a century.

Morano famously attributed her long life, in part, to staying single after ending a bad marriage in her late 30s.

Over the years she also worked as a cook in a boarding school until she retired at the age of 75, and remained single, although she never divorced her husband.

Bava has previously told the AP that Morano lost a son to crib death when he was six months old and left her husband in the first half of the last century after he beat her. "She forgets nothing", Yamile Vergara, her nurse for over 40 years, said at the time.

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

"I separated from him in 1938". Her doctor says she rarely ate vegetables or fruit and instead subsisted primarily on chicken, omelettes, and biscuits.

Morano went on to support herself by working in a factory making jute bags, then at a hotel, working way beyond the usual retirement age.

The eldest of eight children, Morano outlived all of her younger siblings.

According to the Gerontology Research Group, a U.S. body that tracks supercentenarians, the oldest person after Morano is Jamaican woman Violet Brown, who turned 117 on March 10. "She was always very decisive".