The body of an elderly woman was buried in another woman's grave after a mortuary mistake.

The burial blunder was discovered last week when the family of Mary Jane Janet Ryan, 85, requested a final viewing of their cherished matriarch the day before her funeral in Frankston, in Victoria, Australia.

Bereaved relatives lifted the coffin lid to discover another woman lying in their mother's clothes and jewelry.

Their anguish deepened when they found their mother, who in total has 69 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, was wrongly buried as the other woman earlier that day at Crib Point cemetery.

Council gravediggers were called in to exhume her body.

Ryan's son, Michael, said the mix-up was a double blow for the grieving family.

"It was horrifying to find another woman in the coffin when we opened it," he said. "I was offended and it must have been awful for the other woman's family too."

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