Luo Meizhen, a woman who Chinese officials say is the world’s oldest person, has died, relatives said on Tuesday. Chinese officials say Meizhen was born in 1885 and was 127 years old, but the Guinness Book of World Records never recognized her claim.
"She was 127 when she died, it wasn't unexpected," her grandson Huang Heyuan told Zee News.
In December, the Guinness Book of World Records named 115-year-old Jiroemon Kimura from Japan as the world’s oldest person, the AP reported. Meizhen was challenging the Japanese woman’s title, saying she was born 12 years earlier.
Meizhen’s claim is difficult to prove. Birth certificates in China's Guangxi province, where Meizhen lives, started being recorded in 1949, after the Communist takeover. Meizhen’s sole proof of her age is a faded copy of an identity card, Daily Buzz reported.
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But Meizhen’s Bama county in Guangxi province is home to many century-old seniors. Statistics in 2011 said the area had 81 centenarians, a rate of 31.7 per 100,000 of the local population. Researchers say a healthy lifestyle is the reason behind the residents’ longevity. They have a long-held tradition of waking up at sunrise, going to bed at sunset, taking part high-intensity physical exertion every day, and soaking their feet in hot water every night, ChinaAfrica.cn reports.
Meizhen worked as a farmer throughout her life, had five children, and is survived by several great-great-grandchildren. "She was a kind person but at times had a very bad temper ... she had a strong character," Heyuan told AFP.