Funerals are more often than not a sad and sombre affair where grieving people say goodbye to a much-loved friend or relative who has died.
However, a wake in Ecuador took an unexpected turn when a woman who had been declared dead started knocking on her coffin to reveal she was still very much alive.
The bizarre incident in the central city of Babahoyo has prompted a government investigation into the hospital where Bella Montoya was treated.
Mrs Montoya, a 76-year-old former nurse, was lifted out of her coffin and rushed back to hospital after the unfinished funeral on Friday.
Her relieved but shocked son Gilberto Barbera said: “It gave us all a fright.”
He added: “There were about 20 of us there…. 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.”
Mr Barbera said doctors have told him his mother’s situation remains dire.
Mrs Montaya was in intensive care at the Martin Icaza Hospital in Babahoyo on Monday while the ministry investigates the doctors involved in her case, Ecuador’s health ministry said.
A technical committee has also been formed to review how the hospital issues death certificates, the ministry added.
Mrs Montoya had initially been admitted to the hospital on Friday with a possible stroke and cardiopulmonary arrest.
She was declared dead when she didn’t respond to resuscitation, the health ministry added.
Mr Barbera said his mother was unconscious when she was brought to the emergency room and that a doctor informed him a few hours later that she was dead.
The doctor then handed over identity documents and a death certificate.
Mrs Montoya is now under intubation and doctors have not been giving relatives much hope about her prognosis, Mr Barbera said.
No details have been released about the doctor who had prematurely declared the woman dead.