British police say they have launched a full investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and want to trace 38 "persons of interest" in the case.
Detectives say it's possible that Madeleine, who vanished from a Portuguese holiday resort six years ago, is still alive.
Scotland Yard said Thursday that 12 of the individuals of interest are British, and the rest from a variety of European countries. The force says it is working with governments across the continent to find out more.
McCann vanished from a vacation home in Portugal's Algarve region on May 3, 2007, days before her fourth birthday. The case has generated intense media interest and police inquiries across the globe, including in New Zealand, since then.
Following an investigative review of the case, Police will now conduct "assertive inquiries" about the new individuals identified as persons of interest and any potential involvement they might have had in the McCann disappearance.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said today police "continue to believe that there is a possibility that Madeleine is alive".
"We, and the Portuguese authorities, remain completely committed to finding out what happened to Madeleine, and everything we do is utterly focused on her best interests," Redwood said.
"It is a positive step in our hunt for Madeleine that our understanding of the evidence has enabled us to shift from review to investigation.
Redwood said police remained in close contact with Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann.
- Agencies and staff reporter