Madeleine McCann: Police due to conclude scrubland search

A team of police searching scrubland Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police officers have been combing the bushes and long grass in a large area of scrubland

Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are expected to spend a final day searching scrubland before moving on to new locations.

The operation on the 15-acre site in Praia da Luz started last Monday and was due to last five days but an extension was granted.

Meanwhile, Portuguese police told the BBC "several suspects" are likely to be interviewed in the "very near future".

Madeleine was nearly four years old when she went missing in May 2007.

UK police had already asked authorities if they could speak to three people of interest, the BBC understands.

But Portuguese police sources now say more than three people will be interviewed in the coming weeks.

The interviews will be conducted by Portuguese police. Their British counterparts will be allowed to sit in, but they can not intervene in proceedings, they have said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Long sticks have been used by police operating in the difficult terrain
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Officers have been examining sewers using cameras as part of the operation

A variety of techniques, including the use of ground-penetrating radar and sniffer dogs, have been employed by the team of officers from Portugal and the UK.

Forensic teams are expected to move on to two other sites from Wednesday, after halting the operation for two days to coincide with a Portuguese national holiday.

The BBC understands that, so far, the police have not found anything relevant to the case. Scotland Yard has not been giving updates about the progress of the search.

It is the most significant police activity in Praia da Luz since Madeleine went missing seven years ago.

Her parents, from Leicestershire, had been eating dinner with friends a short distance away when the three-year-old disappeared from their Ocean Club holiday apartment.

Image copyright Everton FC
Image caption Madeleine McCann went missing in Praia da Luz in 2007


As well as being granted an extension at the current search site, officers also have permission to investigate two other areas.

They are both believed to be in the "Luz area".

On Thursday, Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, said they were "encouraged" by the progress made by police, in a statement on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page.

The couple, who have not travelled to Portugal while the search is being conducted, said: "We are being kept updated on the on-going work in Portugal and are encouraged by the progress.

"Thank you for continuing to stand by us and supporting our efforts to get Madeleine home."

The search in Praia da Luz comes after the Met launched a fresh investigation into Madeleine's disappearance last July, codenamed Operation Grange.

In March, they said they were seeking an intruder who sexually abused five girls in Portugal between 2004 and 2006.

Detectives said the attacks had happened in holiday villas occupied by UK families in the Algarve.

Last month Scotland Yard said a "substantial phase of operational activity" in Portugal would start soon.

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