A woman who was believed to have died from cancer was buried alive at a cemetery in northern Greece.

Cemetery workers raced to the freshly dug grave when they heard banging and a muffled voice shouting for help an hour after the unnamed 45-year-old woman was buried.

By the time the coffin was dug up at the plot in Peraia, Thessaloniki, the woman had died from suffocation.

However, a doctor at the scene who examined the woman's body said she had been dead for hours and could not have been revived.

"I just don't believe it," Chrissi Matsikoudi told Greek television channel MEGA. "We did several tests including one for heart failure on the body.

"It would have been impossible for someone in a state of rigor mortis to have been shouting and hitting the coffin like that."

A coroner is expected to officially examine the body and police are investigating why the woman was pronounced dead by doctors treating her for cancer.

Meanwhile, relatives of the dead woman said they are considering filing a complaint against the doctors who treated her at a cancer clinic.

Last year, a 13-year-old girl dug herself out of a grave in Pakistan's Punjab province after being buried alive by two men after they had raped her.

The teenager was abducted from her home in a village in the Toba Tek Singh district and is reported to have been raped in a deserted area.

Believing they had killed her, the attackers buried her in a roadside grave. However, she regained consciousness and after digging herself out, managed to attract the attention of a passer-by, who helped her get to a health centre.