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Rescue teams to reach stranded teen sailor in 24 hours

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: Hillary Clinton to deliver thanks to Australian ambassador
  • French fishing vessel expected to arrive in area soon
  • Abby Sunderland hoped to circle the globe, following her brother's route
  • Mother said teen has food, water, heat

(CNN) -- Rescue teams are heading Friday to a remote area in the Indian Ocean to fetch a stranded 16-year-old California sailor girl who lost contact as she tried to circumnavigate the globe in her yacht.

Abby Sunderland, who is trying to be the world's youngest to sail around the world, lost satellite contact on Thursday and issued a distress call after what appeared to be a rogue wave hit the boat, damaging its communications equipment.

"We are absolutely over the moon. We are very, very happy and excited that the Australian search and rescue jumped on this right away, got a plane after her," said Laurence Sunderland, Abby's father.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans a meeting Friday with Australia's ambassador to the United States, Kim Beazley, said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

"Among other things, she will express gratitude for Australia's help today in locating Abby Sunderland, the young woman who is traveling around the world," Crowley said.

Australian rescue officials said a Qantas Airbus A330 spotted Wild Eyes, Sunderland's yacht, and was able to make radio contact with her. A French fishing vessel was diverted to her location and expected to arrive in the next 24 hours, the family said.

Abby's mother, Marianna Sunderland, said rescue coordinators in Australia told the family that Abby is fine and that the boat is upright.

"She has food, water, and she is running her heater, keeping warm. So she seems to be in good spirits, and that's about all we really know for sure," she said.

Abby's journey began in January from the Marina del Rey in California. According her blog, Abby faced rough winds as she crossed a turbulent area.

Her brother Zack, who circumnavigated the globe in 2009, becoming the first under 18 to make the trip, recalled his own "rough" journey through the Indian Ocean.

"No one gets out of it without hitting a bit of a rough patch," he said.

"You have to have your boat so prepared, all the systems to make it possible for you to do it single-hands. When those systems start breaking, a lot of responsibilities are in you," he said.

"You have to stay up for hours and hours and battle sleep deprivation and storms. ... She has been through that for the best part of 150 days, dealing with it single-handing," he said.