TODAY

TODAY   |  June 11, 2010

Teen girl feared lost at sea found alive

An Australian rescue team was able to locate 16-year-old sailor Abby Sunderland, who went off radar in the Indian Ocean as she attempted to sail around the world solo. TODAY’s Amy Robach reports.

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MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: But let us begin with that breaking news, 16-year-old sailor Abby Sunderland safe and well following an emergency on the high seas. We will talk to her parents and brother in a moment. But first, NBC 's Amy Robach has the details. Amy , good morning.

AMY ROBACH reporting: Meredith , good morning to you. Abby Sunderland began her trip around the world back in January. On Thursday she lost communication with her family and her vessel sent out two emergency signals. But early this morning rescuers had good news about this young adventurer.

Offscreen Voice: Still a good outcome. You got....

Mr. WILLIAM BENNETT (Sunderland Family Spokesman): Yeah, I know, it's a fantastic outcome. We are overjoyed.

ROBACH: Overnight, word that rescuers had located Abby Sunderland .

Mr. BENNETT: I'm happy to report that they did find the yacht, sailing yacht Wild Eyes . It is upright in the water. They did talk to Abby by VHF radio . She says she's fine.

ROBACH: Words of relief after a day filled with worry. Sixteen-year-old Abby Sunderland was on a mission to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone nonstop without help. On January 23rd she set sail from Marina Del Ray , California .

Ms. ABBY SUNDERLAND: I've got my auto pilot, my radar, all my instruments.

ROBACH: But on Thursday morning, word that something had gone terribly wrong. Abby was talking to her father on a satellite phone when the line went dead. Later, two of Abby 's emergency beacons were activated. Her location: the middle of the Indian Ocean , somewhere between Africa and Australia , thousands of miles from land. Before she lost contact she told her family she was having engine trouble and facing 25-foot waves and winds more than 30 miles an hour.

Mr. ZAC SUNDERLAND (Brother of 16-Year-Old Sailor): We're just hoping and praying she gets through OK, and...

ROBACH: Back home in California , Abby 's brother Zac waited Thursday for news. He knows exactly what his sister is facing. He sailed around the world alone last year when he was 17.

Mr. Z. SUNDERLAND: She's had some serious damage to her boat but, you know, she's a great sailor and her boat is set up for the conditions she was in.

ROBACH: A rescue effort was immediately launched. The Australian government sent a Qantas aircraft to fly over the remote area to try to find Abby , and overnight the news Abby 's family had been praying for.

Mr. BENNETT: The hull is in perfect condition, it's just the mast has been torn off. We're not sure how that happened. But she's been in some very severe weather conditions in the southern Indian Ocean . The good news is she's fine and now she knows she's going to be rescued.

ROBACH: And that first rescue boat could reach Abby as early as today. And we're told she has plenty of food, plenty of water and actually has a space heater to keep her warm. Once she is rescued, she will be taken to Australia for a -- I'm sure -- very happy reunion with her family. Meredith :