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People

The oldest man in the world turns 123 in South America's Andes mountains

Carmelo Flores Laura was born in July 1890. If records are correct, that makes him the world's oldest man. A member of the Aymara community he has lived all his life near Lake Titicaca on the high plains of the Andes mountains in Bolivia.

Birth certificates did not exist in this South American country when Flores Laura was born, but a document for his birth shows the date as July 16, 1890. That was the year that, in Europe, German Emperor Wilhelm II dismissed Otto von Bismarck, Scotland's Forth Bridge was first opened to become Britain's longest, and painter Vincent Van Gogh died.

Flores Laura's home by Lake Titicaca is high in the Andes mountains on the border of Peru and Bolivia at an altitude of 3,812 meters (12,500 feet).

If confirmed, Flores Laura is the world's oldest man. He has never learned to read or write. A herder, he has rarely strayed from his straw-roof hut. A widower since his wife died 10 years ago, he puts his longevity down to an avoidance of eating sugar or pasta.

“We only ate what we found in the wild," he said. "I shared the cooking with my wife. I’ve never been lazy - and I still go on long walks every day.” The mainstay of his diet is canahua - a wild grain - with some mutton and pork.

Flores Laura has 16 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren and one surviving son, aged 67 years.

jm/mkg (dw)