Guests at a wake got the ‘shock of their life’ when they heard knocking from the coffin of a 76-year-old woman, who had been declared dead hours earlier.
Relatives at the wake in Ecuador quickly extracted retired nurse Bella Montoya from the coffin and rushed her to hospital in the central city of Babahoyo.
Her son Gilberto Barbera said “it gave us all a fright,” adding that doctors have said his mother’s situation remains dire.
Ecuador’s Health Ministry said that Montoya was in intensive care and an investigation was launched into the doctors who managed her case.
A technical committee has been formed to review how the hospital issues death certificates, the ministry said in a statement.
Ms Montoya initially had been admitted on Friday at the hospital with a possible stroke and cardiopulmonary arrest, and when she did not respond to resuscitation a doctor on duty declared her dead, the ministry said.
Mr Barbera said his mother was unconscious when she was brought to the emergency room.
A few hours later a doctor informed him she was dead and handed over identity documents and a death certificate.
The family then brought her to a funeral home and were holding a wake, with around 20 guests, later that same day, when they started to hear strange sounds.
Mr Barbera said: “After about five hours of the wake, the coffin started to make sounds.
“My mum was wrapped in sheets and hitting the coffin, and when we approached we could see that she was breathing heavily.”
No details have been released about the doctor who had prematurely declared the woman dead.