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The North Face and Esprit founder Douglas Tompkins has died in a kayaking accident in southern Chile at the age of 72.

The clothing billionaire died of hypothermia after the kayaks he and five others were in capsized in strong waves, authorities said.

Douglas Tompkins was taken by helicopter to hospital in Coyhaique but had stopped breathing when he arrived, doctors said.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

He bought up large tracts of land in Chilean and Argentine Patagonia to keep them pristine.

A military patrol boat rescued three of the kayakers on General Carrera Lake and a helicopter lifted out the other three, the Chilean army said.

The North Face said in a statement: “Doug was a passionate advocate for the environment.

“His legacy of conservation will help ensure that there are outdoor spaces to be explored for generations to come.”

On his Chilean land, Douglas Tompkins created Pumalin Park, 1,120 sq miles of forest, lakes and fjords stretching from the Andes to the Pacific.

Douglas Tompkins also became involved in local environmental issues in Chile and Argentina and helped raise environmental awareness there.