An American man has died hiking a popular trail in central Australia's Northern Territory. The 33-year-old California man went missing on Wednesday after taking a wrong turn on the Larapinta Trail.
The man reportedly became separated from his hiking companion on the trail, about 100 miles west of Alice Springs, who then reported him missing. Police and park rangers launched a search, and his body was found a few hours later at the base of Mount Sonder.
"Investigations are ongoing, however police do not believe there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding the death," said Senior Sergeant Michael Potts of the Northern Territory police force.
Temperatures in the area reached almost 108 degrees on Wednesday and police have said that alone would have made hiking dangerous.
"I think it's fair to say that heat and exposure were contributing factors" in the death, Police Superintendent for the Southern Desert, Jody Nobbs said Thursday. "The gentleman had very limited water supply and certainly given the conditions that we are presently experiencing in central Australia, it's highly likely that was a probable consequence, and as I said there's no suspicious circumstances known at this time."
Sergeant Potts said the U.S. Consulate in Australia had been advised of the death, and an investigation was ongoing. He did not identify the victim.
The tragedy prompted authorities to warn of the dangers of hiking in the northern Australian summer heat, particularly for tourists who have not acclimatized from the northern hemisphere winter. A coroner will investigate the tragedy and report on the cause of the man's death.
The deceased man and his 40-year-old companion set out on the 10-mile trek to the Mount Sonder summit and back on Wednesday morning, Police Superintendent Rob Burgoyne told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The companion told police that the man ran on ahead during the descent and then took the wrong turn just three hours before his body was found, Burgoyne said.