Madeleine McCann: police search scrubland in Praia da Luz

Portuguese police to use ground-penetrating radar at wasteland 300m from apartment where girl disappeared in 2007

Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have sealed off an area of scrubland in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz to begin fresh searches, which are expected to involve the use of ground-penetrating radar.

The equipment will detect whether the ground has been disturbed and excavations of any site could then follow.

Last month, Scotland Yard said it would begin a "substantial phase of activity on the ground" as part of the renewed investigation into Madeleine's disappearance.

The BBC reported that the operation was under way on Monday, with Portuguese police and dogs at the site, which is surrounded by flats and villas, many of them holiday properties. The initial search, involving a dozen British officers who will oversee the effort, is to focus on wasteland 300 metres from the Ocean Club apartments, where the McCanns were staying. The ground, which had been used to grow cabbages, is now hard and covered with bushes and thick grass.

The site has reportedly been selected because of its proximity to the Ocean Club resort and 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 ground searches are expected to focus on three parts of the resort where three-year-old Madeleine went missing on 3 May 2007 while her mother and father, Kate and Gerry McCann, were having dinner with friends at a tapas restaurant near their holiday apartment.

Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said last month the operation in Praia da Luz did not amount to a significant breakthrough, instead describing it as the "routine slog" of an ongoing investigation. He said there were many fruitful lines of inquiry being explored but conceded: "We may go through every line of inquiry and all of them draw a blank."

Rowley appealed for media restraint ahead of the searches, a call that was echoed by a Polícia Judiciária source in Lisbon who insisted the investigation would not be "transformed into a media circus".

The renewed searches followed negotiations between Britain and Portugal involving various international letters of request from Britain. Each search requires prior approval from prosecutors in Portugal. British police began a review of the case in 2011 at the instigation of David Cameron following appeals from the McCanns and then launched their own investigation.


Mark Tran

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Police search for Madeleine McCann begins near Praia da Luz

Police sources in Lisbon say the searches in scrubland close to resort are expected to last the entire week

Brendan de Beer in Praia da Luz

02, Jun, 2014 @3:04 PM

Article image
Madeleine McCann search moves to scrubland

Detectives may use excavators, dogs and ground-penetrating radar in area about 2km from where child went missing

Brendan de Beer in Praia da Luz and Ben Quinn

03, Jun, 2014 @10:05 AM

Article image
Madeleine McCann police dig scrubland near holiday apartment in Praia da Luz
British police officers focus search on area five-minute walk away from where girl disappeared seven years ago

Josh Halliday and Brendan de Beer in in Praia da Luz

03, Jun, 2014 @4:11 PM

Article image
Madeleine McCann: British police and forensic experts to use radar in search

Ground-penetrating radar will be used as investigation into her disappearance moves into increased activity on ground

Sandra Laville and Josh Halliday

06, May, 2014 @6:58 PM

Article image
Madeleine McCann search fund 'running out'

Parents Gerry and Kate McCann express dismay at lack of help from authorities three years after their daughter vanished

Haroon Siddique and agencies

03, Nov, 2010 @1:41 PM

Article image
Kate and Gerry McCann the driving force behind Madeleine investigation
After years of relentless searching for clues to their daughter's disappearance, the McCanns now have full police support

Sandra Laville, crime correspondent

04, Jul, 2013 @1:01 PM

Madeleine McCann - will editors show restraint in reporting new inquiry?

Roy Greenslade looks at today's coverage of a story with a dark history that cost publishers many thousands of pounds

Roy Greenslade

05, Jul, 2013 @8:13 AM

Article image
Madeleine McCann: no fresh evidence uncovered in scrubland search
British police end unprecedented ground-level operation after scouring 60,000 square metres of wasteland in Praia da Luz

Josh Halliday and Brendan de Beer in Praia da Luz

11, Jun, 2014 @6:01 PM

Article image
Madeleine McCann: sniffer dogs help police search scrubland – video

Sniffer dogs join the police search on scrubland in the holiday resort of Praia da Luz as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann

03, Jun, 2014 @12:36 PM

Article image
Madeleine McCann: UK police search in Portugal could begin next week
'Substantial phase of activity' in case of missing girl could begin as early as Monday if technicalities permit, sources say

Brendan de Beer in Praia da Luz and Josh Halliday

28, May, 2014 @5:51 PM