Detectives are flying to Praia da Luz where Madeleine, three, vanished seven years ago in a new search for clues. Officers will use radar penetration equipment to look for signs of soil disturbance while mechanical diggers will carry out full excavations. Trained sniffer dogs will also be used to search for human remains. The main target is a fenced-off wasteland area the size of three football pitches 100 yards from the Ocean Club apartment where her family was staying.
Three separate search warrants have been submitted to Portuguese Attorney-General’s office and the investigation team is now awaiting final permission to start work. The Metropolitan Police declined to comment yesterday. But last month, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said there would be a “substantial phase of activity involving Portuguese police with British police in support”.
The main targets of the searches are a fenced-off, vacant building lot, wasteland on a hill overlooking the resort's beach and another site outside the resort. Portuguese police will not take part in the new searches, though a senior officer will oversee the operation. The Scotland Yard team also hopes to interview eight Portuguese nationals, though it is not clear if they are regarded as suspects or witnesses.
Former GP Kate, 46, and heart specialist Gerry, 45, from Rothley, Leics, are staying away from the resort while ground operations go ahead. A source said: "This is a critical time in the British investigation and could provide the big breakthrough in the case. Obviously there is the chance her body could be found. That is a nightmare scenario for her family, but it would also bring closure. They understandably have to remain positive and assume Madeleine is alive, but the dig raises the possibility of finding evidence that she is not."
Police searching for Madeleine McCann have sealed off an area in Praia da Luz, where they are expected to begin digging. It marks a significant new phase of the investigation into her disappearance while she was on holiday with her family in the Portuguese resort in May 2007.
Detectives have flown to Praia da Luz where Maddie, three, vanished seven years ago in a new search for clues. Officers have identified a number of potential search sites near to where she went missing while on holiday with her family in 2007. The trail has lead investigators to scrubland close to the apartment where the McCanns had been staying at the time, according to reports. The site was previously an open area but is now scheduled for development.
Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry McCann are not believed to have travelled to Portugal as part of the new investigations. During the latest round of searches in Portugal, Officers will use radar penetration equipment to look for signs of soil disturbance while mechanical diggers will carry out full excavations.
Trained sniffer dogs will also be used to search for human remains. The main target is a fenced-off wasteland area the size of three football pitches 100 yards from the Ocean Club apartment where her family was staying. There were plans to build a new Irish-backed holiday hotel complex on the vacant site until the project was shelved after the economy in Ireland collapsed.
The new search operation, which could last up to a week, was instigated by Prime Minister David Cameron after Portuguese police failed to find Madeleine. She went missing on May 3, 2007, while her parents were having dinner with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant. The Metropolitan Police declined to comment on the operation. But last month, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said there would be a “substantial phase of activity involving Portuguese police with British police in support”.
For the McCann family, the latest search for evidence about their daughter's disappearance couldn't come soon enough. But some in the resort of Praia da Luz are frustrated by the timing. It is the start of the summer season on the Algarve - its busiest period of the year by far. Families and retired couples are heading from the UK to the resort of Praia da Luz - making the short journey from Faro Airport further along the coast.
Here, the population increases four-fold in the summer months, remaining popular for the same reasons it attracted the McCanns - it is compact, family-friendly and has activities to keep all ages occupied. Children can be seen paddling in the waves and building sandcastles on the beach, all under the blazing sun. But just up the hill a large area of scrubland has become a hive of activity with police officers inside a cordon and journalists outside. The land is owned by a company belonging to one of Portugal's richest men and is a short distance from the centre of the village.
Those who do speak tend not to give their names - but express their fears about the effect the renewed attention on the search for missing Madeleine McCann will have on this tiny village that comes into its own in the summer months. A woman from Essex, one of many British people with a holiday home here, says: "We're all fed up with this. It's a nuisance at this time of year.
"All this attention had an effect before and now it will again. It's totally disruptive." Another holidaymaker, from Newry, County Down, is here with her family, including her grandchildren, and has walked down to the search ground to show them what is happening. She says: "My sympathies are with the McCann family - I met them in 2007. But I don't know what the police hope to achieve. It disturbs the village."
One woman known as Nana, who has lived in the area for 15 years, feels so strongly that she walks up to the site on Rua 25 da Abril with a handmade placard bearing the words: "Dig up lies, not Luz". "I'm very angry, frustrated, furious," she says. "It has such a detrimental effect on Luz locally, for tourism. People live off tourism. Luz is suffering and that's why I'm angry." The police activity is happening now because Portuguese authorities recently accepted a Metropolitan Police request to search the area of scrubland near where Madeleine, then three years old, went missing in 2007.
Police officers in Praia da Luz have erected tents over several locations they have deemed significant as they use radar equipment and sniffer dogs to search scrubland close to where Madeleine McCann went missing.
Two forensic officers were seen entering the tents to examine what was hidden below. One of the tents is covering a hole concealed by corrugated iron which was exposed on Tuesday after trees and shrubs were cut down. Earlier, the detective leading the British review into Madeleine's disappearance, DCI Andy Redwood, examined the area which it is thought had been covered by the iron for a number of years.
The scanners can be used to examine the sub-surface of the ground several metres down. Experts will then look for any anomalies in the ground that may signify the earth has been disturbed. Former Metropolitan Police search advisor Keith Farquharson told Sky News: "It will show anomalies within the earth structure (but) it won't show a skeleton like an X-ray would.
"It would just show the anomaly in the ground. That would have to be investigated and the best way to do that initially is (with) victim recovery dogs." Police have not revealed what intelligence they have that leads them to the scrubland, which is a five-minute walk from the Algarve holiday complex where three-year-old Madeleine had been staying with her family. The youngster disappeared from her family's apartment in the Ocean Club resort in May 2007.
British cops are carrying out forensic tests on material discovered near a hidden pit on wasteland close to where Madeleine McCann vanished. Experts drafted in from the UK are carrying out scientific analysis of the “non-organic” items - believed to include scraps of clothing.
Search teams scoured the cordoned off area for a fourth day and inspected sewers with hi-tech cameras. A Portuguese military jet also swooped low over the site in Praia da Luz to gather detailed imagery of the terrain which will aid detectives. UK sniffer dogs continue to work inside the taped-off area - which is 300 metres from the apartment where Madeleine disappeared in May 2007.
UK sniffer dogs continue to work inside the taped-off area - which is 300 metres from the apartment where Madeleine disappeared in May 2007. Detectives from Scotland Yard’s Operation Grange need at least another week to scour the land and two more areas in the Algarve resort. Met Police officers wearing blue combat trousers and white t-shirts cleared scrubland using spades and pick axes in searing 28C heat.
A team of experts lifted at least three manhole covers to expose a sewer system - installed as part of failed plans to build a hotel. One plain-clothed UK detective then lowered a hi-tech micro-camera attached to a long pole down the drains and inspected the pipes. Work also continued at the concealed shaft covered with corrugated iron sheeting that was discovered earlier in the week. The concealed chamber, on the south-eastern tip of the search area, is believed to have been used previously by local children as a play area.
Local reports said “non-organic” items had been discovered close to the pit on Wednesday and is being subjected to forensic tests. A source said: “It could be days before the significance of the items is known. "Several are being analysed by the British team.” Scotland Yard refused to comment on the possible development, saying it was not giving a “running commentary” of the investigation.