Emma Morano, an Italian woman believed to have been the oldest person alive and the last survivor of the 19th century, died on Saturday at the age of 117.

Morano was born on November 29 1899. She passed away peacefully at while sitting in an armchair at her home in Verbania, a town on Italy's Lake Maggiore.

Dr. Carlo Bava, Morano's doctor, said he had last seen her on Friday when 'she thanked me and held my hand.'

She had attributed her longevity to her genetics and a diet of three eggs a day, two of them raw.

The mayor of Verbania said, 'She had an extraordinary life, and we will always remember her strength to help us move forward in life.'