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FILE PHOTO: Two tourists watch the setting sun from atop a rocky outcrop in the West MacDonnell Ranges along the Larapinta Trail about 110 kilometres (66 miles) west of the central Australian town of Alice Springs April 18, 2004. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/File Photo


SYDNEY (Reuters) - An American tourist has died in the Australian outback while hiking though sweltering conditions on the Larapinta Trail, renowned for its ancient Aboriginal sacred sites, police said on Thursday.

The 33-year-old Californian had been walking the popular Larapinta Trail some 160 km (100 miles) west of Alice Springs in central Australia with another man, when they became separated on Wednesday, police said.

"His partner made it back to the Redbank Gorge carpark and raised the alarm," Northern Territory Duty Superintendent Rob Burgoyne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"Unfortunately the 33-year-old didn't arrive and his body was eventually located about 400 metres down the track where he'd turned the wrong way."

Police do not believe the death to be suspicious, although heat and exposure were likely contributing factors, police superintendent for the southern desert, Jody Nobbs, said a press conference in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

A snake bite, or a fall, were other possible causes under investigation, he added.

Temperatures in the area reached 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday. The Larapinta Trail website lists over exertion as one of the greatest risks to hikers due to the potential for dehydration.

The men had hiked 16 km (10 miles) before they were separated on a path that afforded little shade and were carrying limited supplies of water, according to police.

"We live in a beautiful but harsh environment," Nobbs said.

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook and James Regan; Editing by Michael Perry)

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