Girl who braved 30-foot mid-Atlantic waves for hours dies

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A 6-year-old French girl who braved hours in the ocean with her father amid 10-meter (33-foot) waves after a yacht sank in the mid-Atlantic later died of hypothermia, Portuguese authorities said Thursday.

A French sailboat carrying a French couple and their two children sank after midnight, Portuguese navy spokesman Paulo Vicente said. It was one of four yachts that, separately, ran into trouble during a fierce storm about 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of Portugal's Azores Islands, the Portuguese navy said in a statement.

The mother and 9-year-old son climbed into the yacht's lifeboat and were picked up by a merchant ship.

The navy said a plane threw the father and daughter an inflatable lifeboat and they were rescued after dawn, but the girl later died.

The rescue operation occurred during severe weather, which started Wednesday, the navy said. In total, 12 people were rescued from four yachts in an unusually busy 24 hours for the emergency services.

Aircraft from the Portuguese air force and the U.S. Coast Guard were diverted from a joint naval exercise after receiving distress calls from the yachts. Two passing merchant ships were also involved.

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