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World's oldest woman from Ecuador dies at age 116

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August 28, 2006 -- The world`s oldest woman, an Ecuadorian woman about two weeks from her 117th birthday, died over the weekend at the age of 116.

Maria Esther de Capovilla died in a hospital Sunday after contracting pneumonia, Ecuadorian TV reported Monday. Capovilla was born Sept. 14, 1889.

Capovilla was confirmed as the oldest living person on Dec. 9, 2005, after her family sent details of her birth and marriage certificates to the British-based publisher. Emiliano Mercado Del Toro of Puerto Rico retains the title as oldest man. He turned 115 last Monday.

Three of Capovilla's five children - Irma, Hilda, and son Anibal - are still alive, along with 12 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, Catherine Capovilla told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Capovilla was from a well-to-do family that traced its lineage to Spanish nobility, and her father was a colonel in Ecuador's army.

When she was young, she liked to embroider, paint, play piano and dance the waltz at parties, the family said. She was married to Antonio Capovilla, an Austrian sailor who came to Ecuador in 1910.

She always ate three meals a day and never smoked or drank hard liquor. "Only a small cup of wine with lunch and nothing more," said daughter Irma during an interview.

For the past 20 years, Capovilla had lived with elder daughter Hilda. Her calm disposition may have been the secret to her longevity.

An American woman, Elizabeth Bolden of Memphis, Tenn., is now the oldest known person alive, according to Guinness World Records. She is also 116 - but 11 months younger than Capovilla.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest person ever was Jeanne Louise Calment of France, who lived to be 122 years and 164 days. She was born in 1875 and died in 1997.



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