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By Laura Gozzi
Mourners at the funeral of an elderly Ecuadorian woman were startled to discover she was still alive.
Bella Montoya, 76, was declared dead last week following a suspected stroke.
Five hours into her wake on Friday, relatives preparing to change her clothes ahead of the burial found her gasping for air.
Ms Montoya is now back in hospital in intensive care, and Ecuador’s health ministry has set up a committee to investigate the incident.
In a statement, the ministry said that the woman went into cardiorespiratory arrest – a loss of breathing and heart function – did not respond to a resuscitation. The doctor on duty confirmed her death.
Her son, Gilber Rodolfo Balberán Montoya, was quoted by local media as saying that his mother had been “admitted around 09:00, and at noon a doctor told me [she] died”.
Ms Montoya was then placed in a coffin for several hours until she was seen by family members trying to take deep breaths.
A video posted on social media showed her lying in an open casket and breathing heavily while several people crowded around her.
Paramedics are then seen arriving and observing Ms Montoya before moving her onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.
Now she is in intensive care in the same hospital where doctors declared her death.
AFP news agency quoted Mr Balberán as saying: “Little by little I am grasping what has happened. Now I only pray for my mother’s health to improve. I want her alive and by my side.”