The world’s unofficial oldest man has died in Chile a week after he broke three ribs falling out of bed. He was believed to be 121.
Celino Villaneuva Jaramillo was never recognised as the world’s official oldest man because he lost his birth certificate in a fire 22 years ago, when he was 99.
But his state ID, which was hand-delivered by Chile’s justice minister two years ago, listed his birth year as 1896 and ministers said government records showed he was as old as he claimed.
Celino Villaneuva Jaramillo, the world’s unofficial oldest man who was believed to be 121, has died in Chile a week after falling out of bed (pictured on his 120th birthday)
Jaramillo was never recognised as the world’s oldest man because his birth certificate was destroyed in a fire 22 year ago, when he was aged 99
That birth date would have made him nine years older than the world’s official oldest man, 112-year-old Masazo Nonaka, from Japan; and four years the senior of the world’s oldest woman, another Japanese national called Nabi Tajima, who is 117.
Nonaka was given the title earlier this month after the previous holder, Francisco Nunez Olivera from Spain, passed away in February at the age of 113.
Jaramillo’s death at 121 also comes just shy of beating the record for oldest human who ever lived, set at age 122 by Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997.
Jaramillo died following a fall which broke three ribs, one of which pierced his lung, The Guardian reports.
For the last 22 years, he had been living with Marta Ramírez, who took him in after his house burned down.
Ivonne Morales, Ramirez’ daughter who also lived at the house, said they were ‘very sad’ about his passing.
‘He was an integral part of our family, the man of the house,’ she said.
Ms Ramírez, herself aged 99, previously admitted she never expected the frail nonagenarian, who is now blind, deaf and cannot walk without help, to still be living under her roof two decades later.
‘He was 99, I didn’t think he’d be around that much longer,’ she said.
Celino was a former farm labourer who never married or had any children.
He was born in Río Bueno the year X-rays were discovered, the first modern Olympics was held in Athens and Queen Victoria became the UK’s longest-serving monarch.
Mystery surrounds much of Celino’s existence, but it is known he spent the final 30 years of his working life in the employment of Ambrosio Toledo.
On the veteran’s 80th birthday, Toledo delivered the news he was being replaced by a younger, fitter field hand and he would need to leave the house he was living in.
Celino left with a pension and moved into Mehuín, a small town on the Pacific coast.
There, he rented the house that would later burn down. The modest shack contained a dirt floor with a fireplace in the middle, which he would use to cook fish.
Following the fire Celino moved in with neighbor Marta Ramírez and her daughter, and it was in their house that he suffered the fall which killed him
At the time of his death, Celino was 90 per cent blind due to cataracts, 85 per cent deaf, could not walk unaided, and had no teeth left
Local children describe him as ‘elf-like’ due to his small size and the fact he used to walk around with a sack over his shoulder.
He spent this time growing vegetables and selling them to shopkeepers before tragedy struck and fire made him homeless.
Somehow, the old man survived the flames, only suffering minor burns and smoke inhalation.
In 2011, Celino celebrated his 115th birthday and was treated to a personal appearance by Chile’s billionaire president Sebastián Piñera, who showered him with gifts, including a wood-burning stove, earphones and crutches.
Piñera also handed him a certificate recognising his age and said he was an example of the government’s commitment to the elderly, despite the fact the he never received any government support.
Before his death, Celino was almost 90 per cent blind due to operable cataracts, 85 per cent deaf, did not have any teeth and couldn’t walk unaided.
Last year friends filmed him blowing out the candles on his 120th birthday cake.
In a heartwarming video posted to Facebook by Carlito Altamirano, one of his carers is seen handing him a birthday card.