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Ecuadoran woman wakes up inside coffin at her own wake

She was declared dead and her family given a death certificate.

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An aerial view of a cemetery in Quito, Ecuador, on Nov 2, 2021. Photo: AFP
An aerial view of a cemetery in Quito, Ecuador, on Nov 2, 2021. Photo: AFP

An elderly Ecuadoran woman who woke up inside a coffin at her own wake is being treated at the same state hospital that declared her dead two days earlier, her son said on Sunday.

A video posted on Twitter shows Bella Montoya, 76, in her open coffin breathing heavily while two men assist her.

Her son, Gilbert Balberán, said "she was hitting the box" with her left hand after the five-hour wake.

Balberán had to arrange for the donation of a coffin for the impoverished family after the Martin Icaza public hospital, in the coastal town of Babahoyo, declared Montoya dead on Friday.

"They even gave us a death certificate," he said in a video broadcast by local media.

Ecuadoran media reported the unusual incident, with headlines celebrating the woman's "resurrection".

"My mom is on oxygen. Her heart is stable. The doctor pinched her hand and she reacted," Balberán said in an El Universo newspaper report.

"They tell me that this is good, because it means that she is reacting little by little."

Montoya was admitted to hospital with a suspected stroke "and went into cardiorespiratory arrest without responding to resuscitation maneuvers, so the doctor on duty confirmed her death," Ecuador's health ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The ministry said it had established a committee to investigate the incident and that it would supervise Montoya's care.

Balberán said he had visited his mother in the hospital's intensive care unit on Sunday.

"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," he said.

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