Kate and Gerry McCann say they are "encouraged by the progress" being made by search teams in Portugal close to where their daughter Madeleine went missing. Writing on their Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page, the couple said: "We are kept updated on the ongoing work in Portugal and are encouraged by the progress.
Police searching an area of scrubland in Praia da Luz have begun looking inside drains for any clues about her disappearance. At least three manhole covers were pulled up and mini cameras dropped into underground pipes, on the fourth day of the search by officers from Britain. Sniffer dogs started hunting for evidence at first light, scouring areas within the police cordon that had not previously been explored.
Officers have also been using ground-penetrating radar to discover whether anything may be buried there. The large search zone in the Portuguese resort lies on unused land, five minutes' walk from the holiday complex where the McCanns were staying in May 2007. Officers had planned to search the area only until Friday but have asked authorities in Portugal for an extra week.
Tents have been put up at several locations, including one above a hole concealed by corrugated iron which was exposed on Tuesday when trees and shrubs were cut down. Forensics officers dressed in white overalls were seen coming and going from the tents, pushing wheelbarrows around the site and using large sieves to sift through soil for clues. Evidence bags were carried away as Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading the investigation, looked on.
Officers are expected to be given more time to search the site, which is guarded by local police day and night. It is not clear whether work will continue over the weekend, while no activity is expected on Tuesday as it is a public holiday in Portugal.
The area of the Praia Da Luz resort being searched by police
The family of missing Ben Needham have told Sky News their "thoughts and prayers" are with the McCanns as the renewed search for Madeleine continues in Portugal. All week teams of specialists have searched a large area of scrubland in Praia da Luz not far from the holiday complex where the McCanns were staying in 2007.
Some of the experts involved in the search were also deployed to the island of Kos in Greece in 2012 when South Yorkshire Police led a review into Ben Needham's disappearance. Ben vanished in 1991 when he was 21 months old, after his mother and grandparents moved there from Sheffield.
Speaking to Sky News, the Needham family said: "Our thoughts are with the McCanns in this search for Madeleine. "We ourselves know that this sort of investigation will be a very difficult time for the family. "Our thoughts and prayers are with them."
The radar equipment is used to search for signs of disturbed earth
Police search teams will continue their work through the weekend in Praia da Luz having been given a time extension from the Portuguese authorities. Forensic archaeologists, anthropologists, dog search teams and various specialist police officers from several UK forces have been working on the site.
There have been suggestions that new areas around the resort will be searched in the coming days, but so far no other cordons have been put up. The Metropolitan Police has not revealed why it has chosen to search the area of scrubland or any details of what it has found so far.
Detectives prepare to start work in new areas of Praia da Luz after their first search site reportedly turns up no new evidence.
Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have closed down their first search area in Praia da Luz. Detectives ordered cordons to be taken away from the scrubland site on Sunday evening. The area is a five-minute walk from the holiday complex where the McCanns were staying in May 2007. Specialist teams spent the past week conducting in-depth searches using victim recovery dogs and radar equipment, while archaeologists carefully dug out holes.
The holes have now been filled in, police have packed away their tents and equipment has been removed from the site. Paul Luckman, publisher of the Portugal News, told Sky News: "Nothing has been found that the Portuguese police missed at the time. "People really feel that enough is enough. "(It's) not that they don't have sympathy for the parents or that they don't want the child found but (we have to) be realistic - we're seven years down the road."
Mr Luckman also questioned the expense of the investigation to the British taxpayer, adding: "£7m in, heading towards eight, and with all the resources the Met have got ... we're just in the same situation. "People ask, 'When is this ever going to end?'" Portuguese police sources told Sky News the investigation will resume on Wednesday with searches in new areas just outside Praia da Luz. The Metropolitan Police has refused to give out any details about the searches or the intelligence behind them. As they left the site on Sunday evening, one police officer told Sky News the next searches would be "more of the same".
A MUM whose son was cleared as a suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance welcomed the new police search. Jenny Murat told British detectives: “Come and dig up my garden if you think it will help your search.” Her son Robert Murat, 40, has been probed then eliminated as an official suspect – or arguido – by Portuguese police.
Robert Murat and Madeleine McCann, in whose disappearance he became a suspect in the eyes of many newspapers. Photograph: PA
She added: “They won’t find a thing but if they need to do it as part of their investigation they’re welcome. “That poor girl’s parents need some answers after seven years.” British ex-pat Jenny, 78, lives just 100 yards away from the holiday flat in Portugal’s Praia da Luz where Maddie vanished. She said Scotland Yard had not been in contact yet. She was speaking as British and Portuguese police prepare to dig up parts of the resort. She added: “I’ve had it all before when my son Robert was living here and now I’m thinking: ‘Not again.’
“But if it helps police rule out a certain scenario, let it be. We’ve got nothing to hide.” She added: “I’ve been away in England for a while but I’m home now and my garden’s overgrown and full of weeds.” She said police had originally searched her home and garden in July 2007, just two months after the then three-year-old vanished as her parents dined nearby. She said: “I remember it only too well. “There were six policemen with sniffer dogs all over the place.” She insists the new dig will anger locals adding: “They feel it could ruin our tourism industry.”
The search for Madeleine McCann is to move to scrubland around a water treatment plant where a prime suspect may have worked. Portuguese police sources have revealed that British officers are due to start scouring the area near the resort of Praia da Luz on Wednesday. A fingertip search of wasteland in the centre of Praia da Luz is due to be completed today. It comes as it has emerged Scotland Yard detectives searching for Madeleine in Portugal have been granted permission to question their prime suspects.
Police identified eight local men earlier this year who they believe could hold the key to solving the mystery of Madeleine’s disappearance. The suspects, three of whom are convicted drug dealers, were traced from phone records linking them to Praia da Luz on the night Madeleine was last seen alive. Officers will next turn their focus to two areas by a small water treatment sub-station, a derelict farmhouse and an abandoned well, in their search. Heroin addict Euclides Monteiro was working at a water and sewage plant in Lagos, four miles from the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz where Madeleine was staying with her parents, Gerry and Kate.
Monteiro used to work as a waiter at the Ocean Club but was sacked for stealing tips a year before Madeleine, then three, vanished in May 2007 – amid fears she had been abducted in a botched break-in by a thief looking for cash. He was signed off sick several days before she disappeared and did not return to work for two months. Suspicions about him were heightened after analysis of his mobile phone data placed him near the apartment when Madeleine vanished.
A Scotland Yard detective pours water on a sniffer dog to cool it down during the search for Madeleine McCann
Monteiro, who had served a jail term for burglary, died in a tractor accident, aged 40, in 2009. His widow Luisa has insisted he had nothing to do with Madeleine’s disappearance. The two new areas reportedly due to be searched are on a back road, half a mile from the Ocean Club. One is a ten-acre area of thick undergrowth. It is believed that the sites were identified by British officers before they flew out to Portugal. A Scotland Yard spokesman said yesterday: ‘We will not provide a running commentary on the progress of an investigation.’