October 31 2014
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German tourist found dead in a campervan in Kakadu beside an activated EPIRB, police investigating
By James Purtill
Updated 31 Oct 2014, 12:38amFri 31 Oct 2014, 12:38am
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VIDEO: German tourist found dead in Kakadu National Park (ABC News)
MAP: Jabiru 0886
A German tourist has been found dead in a campervan beside an activated electronic beacon in Kakadu National Park.
Tourist deaths in the NT:
Taiwanese cyclist hit by bus
German in canyon dies of enlarged heart
Melbourne man collapses on Larapinta Trail
Canadian contracts mosquito-borne disease
German woman killed by croc in billabong
The death, which police said they were treating as non-suspicious, occurred at a remote camp site on the hottest day in Kakadu in 10 years.
It followed the heat-related death of a 62-year-old tourist in October 2010.
NT Police said the Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) registered under the man’s name had been activated at 7:00pm CST on Wednesday in the area of Jim Jim Falls, about 300 kilometres by road north-east of Katherine.
About an hour later, Jabiru police arrived at the camp site and found the 31-year-old’s body in the rear of the hired campervan.
When Katherine detectives arrived on Thursday morning they determined the man had walked to the top trail of Jim Jim Falls the previous day.
“We are keen to speak to anyone who was in the area yesterday and may have seen a male, traveling alone and possibly taking photographs,” detective senior sergeant David Richardson said on Thursday.
This morning, police said there was no obvious cause of death.
There was no obvious cause of death. Whether the male that was found set the EPIRB off and subsequently died, that’s what the investigation will find out.
Superintendent Rob Burgoyne
“Whether the male that was found set the EPIRB off and subsequently died, that’s what the investigation will find out,” Superintendent Rob Burgoyne said.
“[Police will also investigate] whether somebody else was involved and for some reason the EPIRB was set off in some sort of situation where someone else did it, or whether the male did it before he succumbed to whatever happened to him.”
When an EPIRB is activated it sends a distress signal via satellite to the Rescue Coordinate Centre (RCC) in Canberra.
The RCC then notifies the EPIRB owner’s emergency contact and emergency services.
Superintendent Burgoyne said many hired campervans had EPIRBs.
“What happens when you hire a van [is] you register the person who has that beacon,” he said.
“So we know exactly who has the beacon.”
Map: Kakadu National Park
‘You need to drink a lot of water out there’
Jabiru had a maximum temperature of 41.6C on Wednesday – the hottest October day since 1987, according to Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Sally Cutter.
“The last time that Jabiru had a maximum hotter than yesterday was the 16th of November 2004, when it reached 42.3C,” she said.
“Jabiru has certainly been experiencing some warm temperatures. The fact it’s equal with the record suggests we’re having a run of warm temperatures.
“What we’re seeing is not that much cloud cover, which is allowing those temps to get up to the low 40s.
“Temperatures around Jabiru in the days leading up to yesterday [Wednesday] were in the high 30s. Tuesday was 39.9C, 38.1C the previous day.
“It’s certainly been warm out there in Kakadu over the last few days.”
She said there had also been no rain since mid-May.
It’s like dry season weather except lots lots hotter. You’ve got hot winds. It’s very hot and the humidity hasn’t kicked in. It’s blue skies every day.
Peter Wilson, Kakadu Lodge
Kakadu Lodge operator Peter Wilson said the walk to Jim Jim Falls from the carpark was about one kilometre and required a good level of fitness.
“You need to be fairly fit to get into Jim Jim Falls. There’s lots of rock-hopping to get in there,” he said.
“The first three-quarters are fairly shaded and OK. The last little bit is fairly hot until you get into the plunge pool.
“All I know is the guy is 31. I don’t know what sort of fitness he was in.
“You need to drink a lot of water out there.”
He said the road from Jabiru to Jim Jim Falls was “fairly good” for 60km but the last 10km to the carpark required a four-wheel-drive.
“If your camper van is a four-wheel drive then good,” he said.
“If it’s not, then not very good.”
He said the weather had been very hot.
“It’s like dry season weather except lots, lots hotter,” he said.
“You’ve got hot winds. It’s very hot and the humidity hasn’t kicked in.
“It’s blue skies every day.”
The death was the second in Kakadu this year after an American tourist drowned in March.
In October 2010, a 62-year-old German man died at Kakadu after becoming disorientated in the heat.
The following year Parks Australia shut Jim Jim Falls and several other major tourism attractions in early November – before annual wet season closure – due to heat.
– James Purtill