A Cuenca woman died Tuesday night as a result of a healing ritual in the Tarqui River, near Mall del Rio.
Maria Teresa Guambaña, 55, was taken into the river by a healer who conducts ancient healing rites. The healer, who has not been named by police, apparently lost his grip on Guambaña in the strong current. She disappeared under the water and her family called ECU 911.
A search of the river and river banks by emergency personnel was called off at 2 a.m. Wednesday morning and resumed at daylight, six hours later. Guambaña’s body was discovered about noon, 500 meters downstream from where she disappeared, at the José Ortega bridge.
Guambaña’s family said that the healer had promised a ritual cleansing that would break hexes and spells, and attract money, love, and prosperity. They said that they trusted the healer, who they knew.
Rescue personnel said the Tarqui River was running at a high level due to rainfall and that the healer should never have attempted the ritual under those conditions. The body was taken to the city morgue for an autopsy.
A police investigation is continuing.