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US teenage sailor Abby Sunderland rescued

Abby Sunderland looks out from her boat. Photo: January 2010
Image caption Abby Sunderland began her voyage in January

A 16-year-old US girl who ran into problems trying to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world has been rescued in the Indian Ocean.

Abby Sunderland was picked up by a French fishing vessel some 2,000 nautical miles off the Australian coast, maritime authorities said.

Her yacht, which has a broken mast, was spotted by an aerial search team in the southern Indian Ocean, midway between Australia and Africa, on Friday.

Rescuers say she is in good health.

The teenager had been stranded in mountainous seas since Thursday.

Laurence Sunderland, her father, said the family was "ecstatic that Abigail is in safe hands".

"She was in good spirits... She talked to her mother," he told reporters outside his home in California, the Associated Press reports.

'She is well'

A spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Co-ordination Centre, Rhianne Robson, said Ms Sunderland would be taken to the nearest land as soon as possible.

"The good news is that Abby is safe, she is well and she is now on the fishing vessel, the Ile De La Reunion," she told the BBC.

It is not clear yet whether the 16-year-old will be taken to Australia or the French territory of Reunion near Mauritius off eastern Africa.

"Arrangements to land Ms Sunderland will now be negotiated with the three ships that have responded to the distress situation," the rescue centre said in a statement.

Ms Sunderland set sail from California in January.

She was attempting to beat the record set by her brother, Zac, who sailed solo around the world in 2009 at the age of 17.

The teenager's family lost contact with her for some 20 hours before she was found on Friday.

Image caption The teenager's yacht Wild Eyes lost its mast in bad weather

They have rejected criticism from some over their decision to allow her to make the attempt, saying she was prepared and mentally well-equipped to deal with the challenge.

It is the middle of winter in the southern Indian Ocean and weather conditions are currently at their most treacherous.

On Wednesday, the teenager wrote in her blog that she had experienced several days of rough weather in which her boat "was rolling around like crazy".

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