NZ student on way home after boat capsized

A New Zealand teenager rescued from a Canadian sail ship that sunk off the coast of Brazil last week has had emotional reunion with her father and is on her way home.

Mei Barry, 17, was one of 64 aboard the three-masted SV Concordia, which was full of high school and university students on a 10-month educational trip around the world.

A distress signal was picked up from the vessel 5pm Thursday local time, (8am Friday NZT) and a Brazilian Air Force plane later spotted life rafts about 500km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

Ms Barry said today that she was doing her homework when the ship capsized.

"All I could see is the boat sails under the water and everyone is trying to hop into a life jacket or emergency suit," she told Radio New Zealand from Rio today.

She was pulled by a rope to where the life jackets were stored and she remained huddled with others until the life rafts were ready.

She had to endure a 41-hour wait on a lifeboat before she was rescued.

The moment she saw rescue ships on the was "the happiest moment of my life", said Ms Barry, formerly from Long Bay College on Auckland's North Shore.

When she was pulled on board rescue boat, Ms Barry could not feel her legs, so stumbled, crouched with others and cried.

"Thank God we're safe."

While she hoped she could continue the sailing experience at another time, Ms Barry was pleased to be back on land and with her father.

She will arrive back in New Zealand on Friday.

Her father Desmond, said he was proud of how his daughter had handled the situation.

"She went away a girl and now I can call her a woman. Very, very proud of her. Very proud of the way she's seeing this."

The ship had visited Europe and Africa since leaving Canada in September, and had just begun a five-month semester programme on leaving Recife in Brazil's northeast on February 8.

It was scheduled to dock yesterday Montevideo, Uruguay, then head to several islands in the Atlantic and to southern Africa and the Caribbean before returning to Canada.


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