SACHIRE, Georgia (AP) — Authorities in the
former Soviet republic of Georgia claim a woman from a remote mountain village
turned 130 on Thursday, making her the oldest person on Earth.
Antisa Khvichava from western Georgia was born on July 8, 1880, said Georgiy Meurnishvili, spokesman for the civil
registry at the Justice Ministry.
The woman, who lives with her 40-year-old
grandson in an idyllic vine-covered country house in the mountains, retired
from her job as a tea and corn picker in 1965, when she was 85, records say.
"I've always been healthy, and I've
worked all my life — at home and at the farm," said Khvichava, in a bright
dress and headscarf, her withering lips rejuvenated by shiny red lipstick.
Sitting in the chair and holding her cane, Khvichava spoke quietly through an
interpreter since she never went to school to learn Georgian and speaks only
the local language, Mingrelian.
Her age couldn't immediately be independently
verified. Her birth certificate was lost — one of the great number to have disappeared
in the past century amid revolutions and a civil war which followed the
collapse of the Russian Empire.
But Meurnishvili showed two Soviet-era
documents that he says attest to her age. Scores of officials, neighbors,
friends, and descendants backed up her claim as the world's top senior.
The Gerontology Research Group currently
recognizes 114-year-old Eugenie Blanchard of Saint Barthelemy, France, as the world's oldest person. The organization is yet to examine
Although Khvichava has difficulty walking and
has stayed largely in bed during the past seven years, she makes a point of
hobbling unaided to the outhouse on the other side of the yard, loathe to be a
nuisance, Mikhail said.
Though her body has all but quit on her — her
fingers cramped and deformed by age mean she can no longer maintain her love of
knitting — relatives say her mind remains sharp.