Madeleine police’s search 
of scrubland draws a blank

BRITISH police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have completed their three searches of land close to where she went missing in Portugal with no evidence relating to her identified.

Officers have spent eight days investigating areas of interest in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, with Scotland Yard confirming last night that “more activity has been agreed”, which is expected to commence shortly.

Further requests are also being compiled and will be submitted to the Portuguese authorities, the Met added.

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After declining to comment about police activity in the resort over the past few weeks, the statement from Scotland Yard said there was “still a substantial amount of work yet to be completed in the coming weeks and months”.

“This recent work is part of ensuring that all lines of enquiry are progressed in a systematic manner and covers just the one hypothesis that she was killed and buried locally,” the statement added.

“This is the same as would be done in the UK for a murder or high risk missing person enquiry.”

It described the deployment as the “largest ever undertaken by UK police overseas in a case of this type” with a total of 60,000 square metres of land searched, including all utilities, drainage channels and derelict buildings.

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Police said the decision to search the “horseshoe”-shaped piece of scrubland close to the Ocean Club resort where Madeleine went missing in May 2007 along with the two other sites probed yesterday was a specific result of the UK’s investigation work to date.

The three areas were identified as places to be surveyed after 41 ground anomalies were identified by aerial survey and ground analysis.

British officers accompanied by Portuguese counterparts spent seven days carrying out a methodical search of the first site last week, with TV crews and press from around the world descending on the small resort as the new development in the lengthy investigation took place.

As police prepared to search the two areas yesterday, graffiti slurring the McCann family and describing British police as “stupid” was scrawled on a nearby wall overnight.