Mourners at the funeral of an 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 - and did not respond to a resuscitation, so 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 spotted by family members trying to breathe.

A video posted on social media shows her lying in an open casket and breathing heavily while several people crowd around her. Paramedics then arrive and observe Ms Montoya before moving her onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.

She is now 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."

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