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Teen sailor Abby Sunderland focus of emergency rescue effort
A rescue effort has been launched in hope of finding Abby Sunderland, 16, who set off her emergency beacon locating devices from the southern Indian Ocean early this morning.
Sunderland, who had been attempting to sail around the world alone, endured multiple knockdowns in 60-knot winds yesterday (Thursday local time) before conditions briefly abated.
However, her parents lost satellite phone contact early this morning and an hour later were notified by the Coast Guard at French-controlled Reunion Islands that both of Sunderland's EPIRB satellite devices had been activated.
One apparently is attached to a survival suit and meant to be used when a person is in the water or a life raft.
Abby's father struggled with emotions and said he didn't know if his daughter was in a life raft or aboard the boat, or whether the boat was upside down.
"Everything seemed to be under control," Laurence Sunderland said. "But then our call dropped and a hour later the Coast Guard called."
Abby is hundreds of miles from land. The rescue effort is being coordinated by the Reunion Islands and Australia. Sunderland had been sailing in 50- to 60-foot seas and it was dark when the EPIRB devices were activated.
The Sunderlands are asking people to pray for their daughter, a high-school junior from Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Abby was for several months one of two 16-year-olds attempting to sail around the world alone. Australia's Jessica Watson completed her journey last month, just days before turning 17.
Abby's brother Zac, who graduated from high school, completed a solo-circumnavigation last summer at 17.
The timing of Abby's trip was criticized by some because it was placing her in the middle of the Indian Ocean when the stormy Southern Hemisphere winter was at hand.
-- Pete Thomas
Editor's note: This item also appears on the GrindTv.com Outdoors blog
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