Born in 1904, Fredie Blom survived 1918 Spanish Flu, saw two world wars, and witnessed fall of apartheid.

In this file photo taken on May 8, 2020 Fredie Blom talks about his recollections as he celebrates his 116th birthday at his home in Delft, near Cape Town.
In this file photo taken on May 8, 2020 Fredie Blom talks about his recollections as he celebrates his 116th birthday at his home in Delft, near Cape Town. (AFP)

A 116-year-old survivor of the 1918 Spanish Flu believed to be among the world's oldest people has died in South Africa.

Fredie Blom died on Saturday, his family said.

Born on May 8, 1904, Blom had "lived this long because of God's grace," he told AFP news agency this year.

Guinness World Records lists the oldest currently living man as Briton Bob Weighton, aged 112, but South African media have described Blom as "unofficially" the world's oldest.

Blom's entire family was wiped out by the Spanish Flu pandemic when he was just a teenager.

But he himself survived and went on to raise the three children of his wife of 46 years, Jeanette, as his own, becoming grandfather to five over the years.

'Strong man, full of pride'

"Two weeks ago oupa (grandfather) was still chopping wood," family spokesman Andre Naidoo told AFP fondly, recalling the old man using a 4-pound hammer.

"He was a strong man, full of pride," he added.

But within 3 days, his family saw him shrink "from a big man to a small person".

Born in the rural town of Adelaide, tucked near the Great Winterberg mountain range of South Africa's Eastern Cape province, Blom died at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.

His death was "not a Covid death at all, it's normal natural death," Naidoo said in reference to the coronavirus pandemic.

Source: AFP