Madeleine McCann: Police complete search of three sites

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Media captionThe BBC's Tom Burridge reports from the scene of Wednesday's searches

Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have completed their search of three sites near the Algarve holiday resort of Praia da Luz.

Portuguese and British officers were seen shaking hands with each other, and taking down a police cordon.

Police sources have confirmed to the BBC that Wednesday's searches have now been completed.

Madeleine was three when she went missing in Praia da Luz in May 2007.

The BBC's Tom Burridge, in Praia da Luz, said he saw police appearing to be saying their goodbyes to each other.

After the physical search is over, Portuguese police are due to question "several suspects" who are described as of interest in the case.

Earlier on Wednesday, police used bolt cutters to open gates to get into the 15-acre grounds of a property, which made up the third search site.

Officers also spent three hours searching an area of grassy land about 15 minutes' walk from Praia da Luz - which was the second area they have searched in the past 10 days.

Two dogs, from South Wales Police, were seen with their handlers inside the second search site, where officers concentrated on a smaller area marked out with police tape.

'Several suspects'

Yellow and white police tape had earlier been stretched around the area and had been guarded by armed local police.

The area included a plot of land with vegetables growing in the middle and a number of dilapidated outbuildings around it.

The BBC understands the land is owned by a construction company based near the Portuguese capital Lisbon and has been left as scrubland after permission to build on it was turned down.

A source said Portuguese police had searched the land in 2007 - after Madeleine disappeared - and had visited the site "four or five times".

It comes after a week-long search of another site - a 15-acre area of scrubland in Praia da Luz - was completed at the weekend and police cordons were removed on Sunday night.

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Image caption UK police searched the second site, outside Praia da Luz, using sniffer dogs
Image copyright PA
Image caption The site is around 15 minutes' walk from Praia da Luz, where Madeleine went missing in May 2007

Portuguese police have said nothing of interest was found during last week's search. However, they 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.


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

The search resumed on Wednesday after a two-day pause because of a Portuguese national holiday.

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

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Image caption The search moved from a 15-acre area of scrubland in Praia da Luz, which was the focus last week
Image copyright PA
Image caption The search is continuing after Portuguese police announced "several suspects" are to be interviewed

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

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

The McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have said they have been "encouraged" by the progress made by police.

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