Woman found alive after 17 days lost in the forest

A yoga instructor who went missing for 17 days while hiking in a US forest reserve survived by drinking from streams and eating plants.

Amanda Eller, 35, went hiking in Hawaii's Makawao Forest Reserve on May 8 but became lost when she walked deeper into the reserve, which covers more than 800 hectares, instead of heading back to her car.

Rescuers in a helicopter hired by her family spotted Eller on Friday afternoon in a ravine by a waterfall, a long way from her vehicle.

"Sure enough, God willing, she was right there," Javier Canetellops, a search co-ordinator who was in the helicopter, told reporters.

Eller, who also works as a physical therapist, was malnourished, shoeless, and had a broken leg and torn meniscus in her knee, as well as sunburn and scrapes. She was airlifted to a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Friends had launched a 'Find Amanda' campaign on Facebook and just an hour before she was rescued, they offered a US$50,000 reward for information. Volunteers spent days scouring the thick forest around the trailhead where she parked.

Cantellops told the the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that she was in the bed of a creek with waterfalls on either side.

He told CNN he saw Eller waving her hands at the helicopter.

"It was unbelievable, dude," Cantellops said. "Seeing her for the first time in a long time was just unbelievable. It was nothing short of elation."

Eller was in an area with thick vegetation, he said. "That vegetation is so thick, it's a miracle that we saw her."

Her mother told the Maui News that Eller survived by staying near a water source and eating wild raspberries and strawberry guavas. She even ate a couple of moths, Julia Eller said.

Her daughter tried to catch some crawfish, but she was "not very successful", Julia Eller said.

"She lost quite a bit of weight, as you can imagine, being lost for that amount of time," Julia Eller said. "But she was able to survive it. She had the right skills and did the right things to buy time so that we had a chance to find her."

"Elated. Excited. Ecstatic," Julia Eller told NBC News affiliate KHNL in Honolulu. "I can't even put it into words, I'm so incredibly grateful."