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Spain: Last known survivor of 1918 flu recounts pandemic 100 years on05:04

Spain: Last known survivor of 1918 flu recounts pandemic 100 years on

Spain, Luarca
March 7, 2018 at 06:41 GMT +00:00 · Published

Sitting in a bar overlooking the idyllic fishing village of Luarca in northern Spain, Jose Ameal has every reason to celebrate his 103 years.

Not only is he one of the oldest residents of this medieval looking town, but he is also the last known survivor of the Spanish flu pandemic which killed 470 of Luarca’s 2,000 population.

From 1918 Luarca was ravaged by Spanish Influenza which left swathes of its residents dead and killed an estimated five percent of the world’s population making it one of the most catastrophic events in human history.

Jose Ameal, a retired taxi driver and bar owner, was one of the lucky few who recovered from the deadly virus.

The eldest of ten children, Jose remembers his family stopping him from watching the numerous funeral processions passing through the town, just outside his house.

“There was a fine veranda, but my grandfather shut the curtain down and didn't allow me to get out again. I did not realise what was going on,” he explained, from a table in the corner of a bar.

Soon the disease was to strike Jose himself, leaving him bedbound. After four days, Jose had recovered enough to crawl but was still unable to walk.

Jose feels the pandemic, which wiped out entire families, towns and communities just as the world was beginning to recover from the Great War, has all but been forgotten by subsequent generations.

“Nobody has asked me these questions since I was a kid. That's why I say that the whole story was completely forgotten. It was a serious crisis, but it's forgotten,” he says.

The graves of those that perished litter the local cemetery, but for Jose, as the final gatekeeper of a time long past, hopes the period is not to be overlooked in the annals of history.

Spain: Last known survivor of 1918 flu recounts pandemic 100 years on05:04
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Description

Sitting in a bar overlooking the idyllic fishing village of Luarca in northern Spain, Jose Ameal has every reason to celebrate his 103 years.

Not only is he one of the oldest residents of this medieval looking town, but he is also the last known survivor of the Spanish flu pandemic which killed 470 of Luarca’s 2,000 population.

From 1918 Luarca was ravaged by Spanish Influenza which left swathes of its residents dead and killed an estimated five percent of the world’s population making it one of the most catastrophic events in human history.

Jose Ameal, a retired taxi driver and bar owner, was one of the lucky few who recovered from the deadly virus.

The eldest of ten children, Jose remembers his family stopping him from watching the numerous funeral processions passing through the town, just outside his house.

“There was a fine veranda, but my grandfather shut the curtain down and didn't allow me to get out again. I did not realise what was going on,” he explained, from a table in the corner of a bar.

Soon the disease was to strike Jose himself, leaving him bedbound. After four days, Jose had recovered enough to crawl but was still unable to walk.

Jose feels the pandemic, which wiped out entire families, towns and communities just as the world was beginning to recover from the Great War, has all but been forgotten by subsequent generations.

“Nobody has asked me these questions since I was a kid. That's why I say that the whole story was completely forgotten. It was a serious crisis, but it's forgotten,” he says.

The graves of those that perished litter the local cemetery, but for Jose, as the final gatekeeper of a time long past, hopes the period is not to be overlooked in the annals of history.

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