Madeleine McCann appeal: Police hail thousands of calls

Madeleine McCann, holding several tennis balls, shortly before her disappearance Madeleine McCann was three years old when she disappeared in Portugal

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Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann say they have received 5,000 calls since a fresh appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch.

Members of the public from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands contacted officers with information following the programme in October.

Det Ch Insp Andy Redwood described the response as "fantastic".

Many of the calls came from people who were in Praia da Luz, Portugal, when Madeleine disappeared in 2007, he said.

Det Ch Insp Redwood said he had been in Portugal this week as part of the Metropolitan Police's investigation, codenamed Operation Grange.

"The media appeals produced a fantastic response from the public in all three countries with a total of 3,500 calls and messages in the UK, 850 to Germany, and 650 in Holland," he told BBC One's Crimewatch.

"Lots of people have called to say they were in Praia da Luz at the time. All of this information has obviously produced a very large volume of work for the Operation Grange team to work through.

He added that there had also been "large number" of calls to Portuguese police.

Announcing their new investigation last month, police in the country said a review team had been working since March 2011 to look back through information from the original investigation.

They said this had uncovered potential new lines of inquiry, which were separate from those being followed by the Met.

On Wednesday, the Met said it wanted to set up a "joint investigation team" with the Portuguese authorities.

Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the force was seeking agreement from the UK and Portuguese governments.

He said it would be more effective than the current "ad-hoc" approach to working together.

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Thursday 3 May 2007: Timeline
Map showing the scene of Madeleine's disappearance
  • 20:30 Kate and Gerry McCann leave their apartment to have dinner at a Tapas bar
  • 21:05 Gerry McCann checks on Madeleine and her siblings
  • 22:00 A man is seen carrying a child wearing pyjamas heading towards the ocean
  • 22:00 Kate McCann raises the alarm that Madeleine has gone missing

Clickable map and timeline

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Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, was three when she disappeared. Police have said her abduction could have been pre-planned.

The appeal update comes after detectives released two e-fits of a man seen carrying a child in Praia da Luz at 22:00 on the night Madeleine went missing.

Police have said they now suspect she could have been taken later than previously thought - just before her mother returned to the apartment to check on her.

The original Crimewatch appeal was repeated in the Netherlands and Germany.

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