Madeleine hunt finds no new clues
British police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have found no evidence relating to her during searches of three areas of land close to where she went missing in Portugal, but “more activity has been agreed”.
Officers have spent eight days investigating areas of interest in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, with Scotland Yard confirming on Wednesday night that more will be carried out “shortly”.
Further requests are also being compiled and will be submitted to the Portuguese authorities.
It follows unconfirmed reports last week that Scotland Yard has been granted permission to question three suspects about the case.
After police declined to comment about the recent activity in the resort, the statement from Scotland Yard said there was “still a substantial amount of work yet to be completed in the coming weeks and months.
“This recent work is part of ensuring that all lines of inquiry are progressed in a systematic manner and covers just the one hypothesis that she was killed and buried locally,” the statement said.
“This is the same as would be done in the UK for a murder or high-risk missing person inquiry.”
It described the deployment to Portugal over the past couple of weeks as the “largest ever undertaken by UK police overseas in a case of this type”, with a total of 59,922 square metres of land searched, including all utilities, drainage channels and derelict buildings.
Police said the decision to search the horseshoe-shaped piece of scrubland close to the Ocean Club resort where Madeleine went missing aged three in May 2007, along with the two other sites investigated on Wednesday, was a specific result of their investigation work to date.
The three areas were identified as places to be surveyed after 41 ground anomalies were identified by both aerial survey and ground analysis.
British officers, accompanied by their Portuguese counterparts, spent seven days carrying out a methodical search of the first site last week.
Specialist teams including forensics officers, sniffer dogs and officers using ground-penetrating radar equipment were used on the large site, with the two areas searched on Wednesday being smaller and on the outskirts of the town.
As police prepared to search the two areas on Wednesday, graffiti slurring the McCann family and describing British police as “stupid” was scrawled on a nearby wall overnight.
A spokesman for the McCanns said they declined to comment on the graffiti, which was written in large red letters in Portuguese.
Madeleine went missing from her holiday apartment on May 3, 2007 as her parents Kate and Gerry dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.