INTERVİEW

118-year-old from Turkey claims to be oldest person

Date on Asiye Sutlu's identity card would make her 11 months older than officially declared oldest person

Anadolu Agency

A woman from southeast Turkey who claims to be oldest person in the world marked her 118th birthday last month.

Asiye Sutlu, whose Turkish identity card states that she was born on April 17, 1899, says the secret to her long life is the organic food she has grown up eating.

During a birthday celebration organized by the Family Ministry on Tuesday in Hizan district in the southeastern province of Bitlis, Sutlu said she eats only local produce.

"We always ate local food -- homemade yogurt, keskek [a dish of mutton or chicken and ground wheat], ayran [a drink made of yoghurt and water] and medicinal herbs that we pick from the mountains," she said.

"These days the food is so unhealthy that I cannot eat it."

On Tuesday, Sutlu cut a chocolate cake in a celebration delayed by a journey last month to western Turkey.

The frail woman lay in bed as her family cheered. She later recalled how she would walk to the highlands to milk cows and carry firewood back to her village during her childhood.

Sutlu lost her husband 45 years ago when she was 73.

She is now being cared for by her daughter-in-law Zinnet and has 41 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.

"I take care of her needs," Zinnet said. "She is happy with me."

Her grandson Mekin said his grandmother remained healthy despite suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure. "The municipality takes care of her needs," he said.

Although Sutlu's claim has not been verified by any international bodies, the birth date stated on her Turkish ID card would make her the world's oldest person.

She would be older than Emma Morano, who was officially recognized as the world oldest person before her death in Italy last month at the age of 117. She had been born six months before Sutlu and had been considered the last living person who had been born in the 19th century.

Jamaican Violet Brown, who was born on March 10, 1900, is now recognized as the world's oldest person by Gerontology Research Group, which records the longevity of people with credible birth documentation.

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