Gilberto Araujo’s relatives were gathered around a coffin at his mother’s house in Alagoinhas when the 41-year-old car washer arrived.
His brother Jose Marcos Araujo had heard news that a car washer had been killed, and wrongly identified the body in the mortuary as he hadn’t seen his brother in four months.
The dead man, said to closely resemble Gilberto, is believed to be another car washer who was murdered at the weekend.
Gilberto said he heard about the mistake when an acquaintance approached him in the street to say his family were about to set off for his funeral.
“A friend told me there was a coffin and that I was inside it,” he said. “So I said, ‘But I’m alive, pinch me!'”
Gilberto said he tried to call another friend who was at the wake but the friend thought it was a hoax and hung up, so he decided to go in person to prove it.
His mother, shopkeeper Marina Santana, told reporters she was overjoyed when her son showed up alive.
She said: “What mother wouldn’t be, after being told that her son is dead and then sees him alive?”
Family friend Maria Menezes, who was at the wake, recalled: “Some people fainted and others were so scared they ran away. It was a big shock.”
Police inspector Roberto Lima said the confusion surrounding Gilberto’s presumed death was “understandable” due to the similarities between the two men.
“The two men closely resembled each other and both worked as car washers,” he said.
Police stated that the dead man has now been identified as Genivaldo Silva Gama but they are now seeking further information about the events surrounding his death.