Abby Sunderland sets off EPIRBs in Indian Ocean

Teenage solo sailor Abby Sunderland has been located alive in the Indian Ocean, after fears were raised when she activated two EPIRBs in rough weather.

The American 16-year-old is attempting to become the world’s youngest circumnavigator and was more than 2,000 miles from the coasts of both Africa and Australia when she manually set off the distress beacons at about 1300 GMT yesterday.

At around the same time she lost satellite phone contact with her parents after telling them she had been repeatedly knocked down in 60-knot winds and 50-foot waves.

But searchers on a chartered Qantas Airbus A330 have spotted her Open 40, Wild Eyes, about 2,000 miles east of Madagascar.

Her parents, Laurence and Marianne Sunderland, wrote on her blog last night: ‘Wild Eyes is upright but her rigging is down.

‘The weather conditions are abating. Radio communication was made and Abby reports that she is fine.

‘We don’t know much else right now. The French fishing vessel that was diverted to her location will be there in a little over 24 hours. Where they will take her or how long it will take we don’t know’

Mr Sunderland has also said that judging by the amount the yacht had drifted he thought its keel had fallen off.

Abby, who set sail in January and passed the half way mark on Monday, had to abandon her original goal of circumnavigating the globe nonstop when she was forced to make a stop in South Africa in April after her autopilot failed.

Her older brother, Zac, became the first person under-18 to complete a circumnavigation last year.