Body found in hunt for third missing person in Australian outback

Missing man Phu Tran 40 has been found in the Northern Territory

McBeath-Riley and Hockridge, both Alice Springs locals, had taken Tran out for a drive and afternoon trek more than two weeks ago, heading to a region south of Alice Springs, when their ute became bogged in a river.

Police found a body on Wednesday they suspect is the only casualty among three people who became stranded in the arid central Australian Outback nearly two weeks ago.

Mr Tran told police he had separated from Ms Hockridge two days earlier after they reached a fence on the property.

Mr Tran (pictured) and Mrs Hockridge went in a westerly direction after their vehicle got stuck while Miss McBeath-Riley headed in a northerly direction where she found a waterhole.

The body was found 38km southeast of the Stuart Well roadhouse and 8.5km east of the highway.

Police located the body, which is believed to be that of Claire Hockridge, during search efforts of the Palmer Valley Station area on Tuesday.

"Even though Claire has died in bad circumstances, we are glad that Tamra and Phu have been found alive and well, and we are extremely grateful to everyone who was involved in that", she said.

The group spent three days drinking through a supply of water, cans of iced vodka, packs of biscuits and beef noodles.

Mr Tran was found by a pastoralist on Tuesday about 12km from the ute.

The three friends had set out to explore the country's vast interior near Alice Springs on Nov 19 when their vehicle became bogged down in a river bed.

Mr Tran told Mr Fogarty he had left Ms Hockridge behind to look for help.

"Ted, the landowner near the cattle farm, he's a battler, he's got 1,000 head of cattle and he dropped everything to make sure I was all right", Tran told reporters.

Ms Hockridge was a triplet, and one of her sisters, Sarah Hockridge, said the family was grieving and exhausted "from the emotional rollercoaster that we have ridden".

Claire Hockridge had two daughters, Teagan and Tahlia, and a grandchild.

Ms McBeath-Riley was rescued on Sunday afternoon after a station worker noticed tyre tracks and alerted police.

Police say formal identification of the body is yet to be conducted and a report in being prepared for the Coroner.

Ms McBeath-Riley spoke outside hospital on Monday, saying she was "worried to death", because she thought the pair - who had a Global Positioning System and compass with them - would have earlier reached the Stuart Highway.

Food and water sources are scant in Australia's remote desert outback, and temperatures regularly exceed 40C (104F) during the day. "At night they could sleep in the vehicle".



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