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Sunday, 2 January, 2000, 17:49 GMT
Nepalese claims to be world's oldest

Sarah Knauss, recognised as the oldest person, died last week

A Nepalese man has claimed to be the oldest person in the world and says he has the documents to prove it.

Ram Avtar Saha Kanu says he is 167-years old according to reports in the Nepalese press.

But the document Mr Kanu used to push his claim, a certificate of citizenship, was only issued to him in 1988.

Claim and counter-claim
Nepalese Ram Avtar Singh Kanu - 167 years
Malaysian Omar Abas - 141 years
American Sarah Knauss - 119 years
Canadian Marie-Louise Febronie Meilleur - 117 years
The certificate states that Mr Kanu was born in 1832, in a village in Dhanusha district, in Nepal's lowlands.

"We are trying to officially establish his age to prove that he is the eldest living person in the world," village council chief, Rabindra Shah, said.

Mr Kanu made a public appearance on the first day of the new millennium to inaugurate a new dental institute.

One newspaper said he still had 15 of his teeth and did not look old for his age.

Mr Kanu is said to have outlived his wife and son.

Oldest person dies

Until recently, the oldest person recognised by the Guinness Book of Records was Sarah Knauss of Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the United States.

Ms Knauss died last week at the age of 119. She was born on 24 September 1880, in the coal town of Hollywood, Pennsylvania.

She became the world's oldest person in 1998 upon the death of Marie-Louise Febronie Meilleur of Quebec, who was 117.

Last June, a Malaysian man, Omar Abas, staked a claim as the oldest person saying he was 141-years old.

Mr Abas said he was born on 26 September 1867.

But his claim was difficult to verify because he had no birth certificate. Malaysians were only issued birth certificates from 1926.

The Guinness Book of Records normally needs a birth certificate to prove a person's age but is willing to research a claim if provided with sufficient documentary evidence.

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See also:
31 Dec 99 |  Americas
World's oldest person misses millennium
26 Dec 99 |  Health
Children could 'live to 100'
18 Jun 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Is this the world's oldest man?
30 Dec 99 |  Education
Student, 107, is still learning
02 May 98 |  UK
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