Portuguese police resume search for Madeleine McCann, British child missing since 2007

Portuguese police resume search for Madeleine McCann, British child missing since 2007

Portuguese police aided by German and British officers have resumed their search for Madeleine McCann, the British child who disappeared in the southern Algarve region 16 years ago.

ARADE DAM, Portugal – Police on Tuesday renewed the search for Madeleine McCann, the British child who disappeared in 2007 in Portugal, with officers digging and scraping the surface of the ground near a roadblock near where she has disappeared.

About 20 officers with rakes and hoe-like tools spread out in line and began digging and raking the ground near the Arade Dam, which is located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the resort town from Praia da Luz, where the 3-year-old girl was last seen 16 years ago.

Police also used a drone to scan the area from above and searched with sniffer dogs on both sides of the roadblock. Firefighters also searched the reservoir in a canoe.

There were no immediate details on progress.

A press conference is scheduled after the searches on Wednesday or Thursday.

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.

On Monday, Portuguese police had set up several tents 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 8am

Portuguese media say this is McCann’s fourth search, following the first in 2007 in the Algarve region and further efforts in 2013 and 2014. Another search took place in Germany in 2020.

This search is considered the first in the dam area by the police, but this could not be confirmed immediately.

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 denied any involvement.

Brueckner is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in Portugal in 2005.

He is being investigated on suspicion of murder in the McCann case, but has not been charged. He spent many years in Portugal, notably in Praia da Luz, at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

German prosecutors in Braunschweig said in a written statement on Tuesday that criminal procedural measures were underway in Portugal in connection with the Madeleine McCann case and that officers from the Federal Criminal Police Office were involved.

The statement said more detailed information cannot be provided for “tactical investigative reasons”.

The case of Madeleine McCann has attracted worldwide interest for several years, with reports of sightings of her reaching as far as Australia, as well as a wealth of books and TV documentaries about the case.

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

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

Referring to the latest searches, Braunschweig prosecutor Christian Wolters said on Tuesday the investigation was proceeding “on the basis of certain clues”, but declined to give further details.

Madeleine’s parents are not commenting due to the active investigation, according to an email response from the website set up to find the child, findmadeleine.com.


Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, and Ciarán Giles and Jennifer O’Mahony in Madrid, contributed to this report.

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