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Missing Dutch teen sailor found

Laura Dekker, a 14-year-old Dutch girl who was barred by a court from sailing around the world solo, was found on a Caribbean island, two days after she ran away from home, police said.


Dekker was found “safe and sound” on the Dutch island of Sint Maarten, said Bernhard Jens, spokesman for the police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, which is near the girl’s hometown.

“She was recognised by an island resident who was aware of the media attention surrounding Laura’s disappearance,” Jens told AFP.

The police spokesman said the girl, who was reported missing on Friday, had run away from her home in the Netherlands but it was unclear how she ended up on the island.

Jens said: “We still have a lot of questions: When did she leave the Netherlands? Why? How did she arrive in Sint Maarten? Was she helped and was she alone?”

Dekker will soon be sent back to the Netherlands, he said.

She lives with her father in the Dutch town of Maurik, near Utrecht.

Disappearance sparked alarm

The teen’s boat, Guppy was still moored at its usual berth when she was reported missing, Utrecht police spokesman Bernhard Jens told The Associated Press.

Dutch authorities had alerted neighbouring countries to monitor airports before Dekker was found.

Dekker has joint Dutch and New Zealand citizenship because she was born on a yacht in New Zealand waters.

She said earlier this year she might try to go there if Dutch authorities refused to let her sail.

Jens would not comment on a report in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that Dekker withdrew 3,500 euros ($A5,660) from her bank account a few days ago.

Safety concerns prompted ban

Last October the youth court in Utrecht prohibited Dekker from setting off on an around-the-world solo yacht trip for at least eight months, citing concerns about her safety.

It also placed the teenager — whose father Dick Dekker supported her ambitions, but whose mother expressed doubts — under the protection of child care officers until July 1 next year.

Last August a 17-year-old Briton, Mike Perham, became the youngest person to complete a solo voyage around the world, albeit with assistance.