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American tourist disappears while visiting ancient Mayan city

An American tourist visiting the ancient Mayan city of Tikal has disappeared. 

Raymond Vincent Ashcroft was visiting the temple ruins on Feb. 3 when he suddenly vanished, Guatemalan authorities said. The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in a remote jungle in Northern Guatemala's Petén province.

Old ruins of Tikal.
Old ruins of Tikal / Yax Mutal, ancient Maya city near the town Flores, Peten Department, Guatemala, Central America. Getty Images

Ashcroft was reported missing to the authorities at 2 p.m. and a search party comprised of police, agents from the tourist civil authority, and soldiers were sent out to look for the 66-year-old tourist, authorities said. 

His wife, Van Phung, told local media her husband of 40 years was on a vacation with a bird-watching group when he decided to return to their hotel room. She stayed behind to take photos of an alligator and birds before returning to look for her husband.

Ashcroft has been missing for seven weeks. The Guatemalan authorities notified Interpol, which facilitates law enforcement cooperation across borders, who issued a yellow notice. Yellow notices are issued to help locate missing persons, often minors, or to help identify persons who are unable to identify themselves.

Tikal, one of the most important Mayan archaeological complexes, was inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. and sits in a protected area of 57,600 hectares, according to UNESCO. Temple and palace remains are visited by 200,000 people yearly, said World Heritage Outlook.

In 2022, German tourist Stephan Baitz, 53, was found dead at the park. His body was recovered two days after he went missing, local media reported, and he died of heat stroke. 

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