July 4 (UPI) -- A 76-year-old Japanese man died while attempting to climb Uluru, the Australian landmark formerly known as Ayers Rock, Northern Territory police said.
Officials said the man collapsed Tuesday while attempting to climb a steep section of the rock formation. Emergency officials took him to a nearby health clinic in Yulara, but died.
"A helicopter had to be utilised to retrieve this person and take him back to Yulara clinic, but unfortunately he passed away," Duty Superintendent Shaun Gill told Australia's ABC.
His death was the 37th at Uluru since record keeping began in the 1950s. The last death was in 2010, when a 54-year-old man from Australia's Victoria state died on the descent.
Anangu traditional owners in the region expressed sorrow for the man's death. A traditional owner is a descendent of the original settlers of the land prior to European settlement in Australia.
"But we've got to look at the access to these places, Uluru is a sacred place. We put signs at the base of Uluru ... for safety's sake," traditional owner Vincent Forrester said.
In November, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board imposed a new rule banning the climbing of Uluru starting in October 2019. The rule was in response to a request by the Anangu people, who said they felt intimidated into allowing climbers to use the sacred rock for recreational purposes.
The director of the Central Land Council, David Ross, described the vote as "righting a historic wrong" and said the rock is "not a theme park like Disneyland."
The Anangu have long requested that Uluru not be climbed, as they believe it's a deeply sacred men's site -- and that they have a cultural responsibility for the number of climber deaths and injuries.