124 candles? Peru stakes claim to world’s oldest human, born in 1900

By Thomson Reuters Apr 9, 2024 | 1:21 PM

By Marco Aquino and Brendan O’Boyle

LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s Andean mountains may hold the secret to longevity and the world’s oldest ever person, if a new claim by state officials of a 124-year-old man born in 1900 are proven to be true.

The country’s government has claimed that local resident Marcelino Abad from the central Peruvian region of Huanuco is 124, which would make him by a distance the oldest living person and even top the oldest ever independently verified human.

“Among the tranquility of the flora and fauna of Huanuco, Marcelino Abad Tolentino or ‘Mashico’ developed a healthy way of life and inner peace, reflected in his good health and friendly personality,” the government said in a statement.

“This allowed him, with resilience and skill, to overcome 12 decades of life and on April 5th he just blew out 124 candles.”

Peruvian authorities say they are helping Abad apply to the Guinness World Records for independent verification.

“Guinness World Records receives many applications from individuals who claim to be the oldest living person,” a spokesperson for the body said in a written statement to Reuters.

Verifying the claim would involve official documents and other evidence being scrutinized by an expert team to “prove their achievement beyond doubt.”

The Guinness World Records currently lists the oldest living man as a 111-year-old Briton who got the title this month after the death of a Venezuelan man who was 114. The oldest living woman is 117, while the oldest person ever verified reached 122.

Abad, who was born in the small town of Chaglla, has lived off the radar until the Peruvian government identified him in 2019, securing him a government ID and pension.

Celebrating his 124th birthday on April 5, Abad says his secrets to vitality include a diet rich in fruits, as well in lamb meat, according to a statement issued by the pension program that Abad is part of.

The centenarian also made a habit of chewing coca leaves, a tradition in Peru’s Andean communities.

Abad now lives in a home for seniors, where for his birthday this month he was treated to a special celebration, complete with a birthday cake with a figurine in his likeness.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Brendan O’Boyle; Writing by Brendan O’Boyle; Editing by Aurora Ellis)