A German explorer has been found dead near a Mayan temple used in Star Wars after going missing for nearly two days.
The body of the explorer, who has been named as Dr Stephan Baitz, was found in the jungle in Guatemala, near the Tikal temple complex, after reportedly having booked a trip to the Tikal National Park, a 57,000-hectare jungle on the border with Mexico.
The 47-metre- (154-foot-) tall main temple in Tikal, as well as numerous other structures, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tikal was one of the most important cities of the Mayan Classic period, from the 3rd to the 9th centuries. Scenes from ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ were also filmed on the temple grounds.
Members of the 20-person tour group visiting the site with the German explorer reported that Dr Baitz went missing some time on Sunday, 9th January. After visiting the main temple, Baitz reportedly separated from the group.
The guide, who has not been named, said: “He wanted to have a look around by himself.”
Park rangers and soldiers combed the grounds, but they were unable to locate the missing German tourist.
Last Tuesday, nearly 48 hours later, the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture reported: “Today, on 11th January, at 9am, the body of the German citizen was found.”
Dr Baitz was found 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the starting point. The military released photos showing the body on a jungle path covered in foliage.
The German embassy expressed its “deepest condolences to the family of the deceased”.
The National Institute of Forensic Sciences of Guatemala said last Friday, 14th January: “What we can report is that no evidence of a violent death was found.”
The institute speculated that the causes of death could be numerous, saying that it was possible that the German had suffered a heart attack, or he might have been poisoned by a dangerous animal, or he might have died of thirst after becoming dehydrated.
The final results of the autopsy will reportedly be made public in a few days or weeks.
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