New research for Madeleine McCann focuses on a reservoir in Portugal

New research for Madeleine McCann focuses on a reservoir in Portugal

Arade Dam, Portugal — The police on Tuesday renewed the search for Madeleine McCann, the British child who disappeared in Portugal in 2007, with officers digging and scraping the surface of land next to a dam not far from where she disappeared. About 20 officers with rakes and hoe-shaped tools spread out in a line and began digging and raking the ground near the Arade dam, which is about 30 miles from Praia da Luz in the southern Portugal, where the 3-year-old was last seen alive 16 years ago.

Earlier, a couple of firefighters could be seen in a canoe on the reservoir.

There were no immediate details on the progress made in the search.

A grim search navigates the Arade Dam near Silves, Portugal, May 23, 2023, as Portuguese police aided by German and British officers resume their search for Madeleine McCann.

João Matos/AP

The operation, led by Portuguese police assisted by German and British colleagues, was announced on Monday. Portuguese officials said this followed a request from German authorities.

Portuguese police set up two blue tents on Monday and cordoned off the area from the media and the public. More than a dozen police cars and vans arrived early Tuesday. Between 20 and 30 officers, some in uniform, were in the area. Witnesses said police began searching shortly before 8 a.m.

Portuguese media said it was McCann’s fourth search, following the first in 2007 in the Algarve region and then others in 2013 and 2014. Another search was carried out in Germany in 2020 .

This week’s search is believed to be the first in the dam area.

German prosecutors in Braunschweig said in a written statement on Tuesday that “criminal procedural measures are currently underway in Portugal in connection with the investigation into the Madeleine McCann case”.

They added that “the measures are implemented within the framework of mutual legal assistance by the Portuguese prosecution authorities with the support of officers from the Federal Criminal Police Office”.

“More detailed background information is not being released at this time for tactical investigative reasons,” the statement said.

In mid-2020, German officials said a 45-year-old German citizen, identified by media as Christian Brueckner, who was in the Algarve in 2007, was a suspect in the case. Brueckner has denied any involvement in McCann’s disappearance but is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for a rape he committed in Portugal in 2005.

A police photo shows Christian Brueckner.


Brueckner spent many years in Portugal, notably in the seaside resort of Praia da Luz at the time of The disappearance of Madeleine of the seaside resort in 2007.

Last year, a German prosecutor announced charges against Brueckner “for several sexual offenses he allegedly committed in Portugal between December 28, 2000 and June 11, 2017”, unrelated to the McCann case.

He is being investigated on suspicion of murder in the McCann case, but has not been charged.

The Enigma: Solving the Madeleine McCann Case

The case generated worldwide interest for several years, with reports of sightings of her spreading as far as Australia, as well as a slew of books and TV documentaries about the case.

The rewards for finding McCann, who would now be 20, have reached several million dollars.

British, Portuguese and German police are still piecing together what happened the night she disappeared from her bed in the southern Portuguese resort on May 3, 2007. She was in the same room as her twin brother and sister , who was 2 years old at the time, while her parents dined with friends at a nearby restaurant.

Referring to the latest searches, Braunschweig prosecutor Christian Wolters said on Tuesday that “we are investigating there in Portugal based on certain clues”, but he declined to give further details.

Wolters said the search “would take a bit of time.” Portuguese officials said the search would take place over the next few days.

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