Friends and family had gathered in Ecuador Friday to mourn the loss of 76-year-old Bella Montoya when they started to hear strange sounds coming from the coffin.
Montoya, a retired nurse, had been taken to a local hospital after suffering an apparent heart attack and stroke. When she didn't respond to resuscitation efforts, doctors pronounced her dead and presented the family with identity documents and a death certificate.
The family then moved forward with funeral plans, but were astonished when they started hearing knocking sounds coming from inside Montoya's coffin during her wake. Upon further investigation, the woman was found alive inside gasping for air.
"There were about 20 of us there," son Gilberto Barbera told The Associated Press. "After about five hours of the wake, the coffin started to make sounds. My mom was wrapped in sheets and hitting the coffin, and when we approached we could see that she was breathing heavily."
"It gave us all a fright," he added.
The family quickly rushed Montoya back to the hospital, where she remained in intensive care, Ecuador's Health Ministry said in a statement. Barbera said his mother was under intubation and doctors hadn't given the family much confidence about her prognosis.
The health ministry said it has launched a full investigation into the doctors involved in the incident and formed a technical committee to review how the premature declaration of death came about.
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