Madeleine McCann: Police conclude scrubland search

Police digging Image copyright PA
Image caption The search is the most significant police activity in Praia da Luz since Madeleine's disappearance in 2007

Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have concluded their search of an area of scrubland in Praia da Luz.

Forensic teams are expected to move on to two other sites from Wednesday after a two-day pause in the search due to a Portuguese national holiday.

Both new sites are empty pieces of land near the camping site on the narrow road out of Luz, the BBC understands.

Madeleine was nearly four years old when she went missing in May 2007.

Cordons were removed from the Algarve holiday resort on Sunday night.

The operation on the 15-acre site started last Monday and was due to last five days but an extension was granted.

The pause in proceedings came after Portuguese police announced "several suspects" were likely to be interviewed in the "very near future".

UK police had already asked authorities if they could speak to three "people of interest", the BBC understands. But Portuguese police sources now say more than three people will be interviewed by them in the coming weeks.

British officers will be allowed to sit in, but cannot intervene in proceedings, Portuguese officials have said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Police have used ground-penetrating radar equipment during the search
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Officers have been examining watercourses with cameras as part of the operation

A variety of techniques, including the use of ground-penetrating radar and sniffer dogs, have been employed by the team of officers from Portugal and the UK.

The BBC understands that, so far, the police have not found anything relevant to the case. Scotland Yard has not been giving updates about the progress of the search.

It is the most significant police activity in Praia da Luz since Madeleine went missing seven years ago.

Her parents, from Leicestershire, had been eating dinner with friends a short distance away when the three-year-old disappeared from their Ocean Club holiday apartment.

Image copyright Everton FC
Image caption Madeleine McCann went missing in Praia da Luz in 2007


As well as being granted an extension at the current search site, officers also have permission to investigate two other areas.

They are both believed to be near Praia da Luz.

On Thursday, Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, said they were "encouraged" by the progress made by police, in a statement on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page.

The couple, who have not travelled to Portugal while the search is being conducted, said: "We are being kept updated on the ongoing work in Portugal and are encouraged by the progress.

"Thank you for continuing to stand by us and supporting our efforts to get Madeleine home."

The search in Praia da Luz comes after the Met launched a fresh investigation into Madeleine's disappearance last July, codenamed Operation Grange.

In March, they said they were seeking an intruder who sexually abused five girls in Portugal between 2004 and 2006.

Detectives said the attacks had happened in holiday villas occupied by UK families in the Algarve.

Last month Scotland Yard said a "substantial phase of operational activity" in Portugal would start soon.

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