Madeleine McCann police to start digging site

Last updated 06:08 03/06/2014
McCann
Reuters

NEW HUNT: Scotland Yard detectives and Portuguese police work in an area near where the toddler was last seen.

Madeleine McCann
MYSTERY: Madeleine McCann disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz as her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.

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Police teams investigating the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann have started using surveying equipment at an area of bush near the Portuguese resort where she was last seen. 

Officers have placed yellow-and-white police tape around the waste ground, which is mostly level and slightly larger than a football field.

Officials have previously said detectives may use excavators, dogs and ground-penetrating radar as they scrutinise the terrain. 

The BBC reported that about 20 police officers and specialists were working at the site, where the teams were expected to be working all week. 

The spot is about 300 metres from the Praia da Luz resort in where Madeleine vanished from her family’s vacation apartment in May 2007, shortly before her fourth birthday. The area was searched in the days following her disappearance. 

The site was reportedly chosen because it is in the direction of the spot where a suspect was seen walking with a little girl in his arms the night of Madeleine's disappearance, the Daily Mail said‎.

A man who has lived in the area for 13 years told the BBC the latest search was "ridiculous".

"The police have been here before. We all helped search this area three or four days after it [Madeleine's disappearance] happened.

"I walk my dog every day and no one was digging holes."

Authorities in Portugal and Britain said recently they would conduct new searches in coming weeks after reviewing the case file and a new public appeal for information.  

Portuguese police closed the case in 2008 because authorities had detected no crime.

The public prosecutor’s office in Lisbon last year reopened the investigation, saying new leads emerged during the case review though it did not elaborate. 

British police launched Operation Grange in 2011 to try to find out what happened to Madeleine.

British detectives have been sifting through the Portuguese case files and say they have identified new avenues of investigation.

Among other things, they have compiled a record of cases involving sexual assaults on children in the area between 2004 and 2010.

Scotland Yard, which was carrying out its own investigation into what happened to Madeleine, said the force was "not prepared to give a running commentary" about the case.

- Agencies

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