The search for Madeline McCann has taken a new twist this week as search dogs were sent out along with police officers to scour a patch of scrubland in the Algarve region in Portugal.
Madeline disappeared seven years ago on the evening of May 3, 2007 while she was believed to be in her bed in a rented holiday apartment in Praia da Luz resort in Algarve. She was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann and her twin siblings. Madeline was 3 years old at the time of her disappearance and would be 11 years old by now if she is alive. The family is originally from the UK and were only in Portugal for a week-long vacation.
The question is if. Recent searches of the scrubland close to the result indicate that investigators are looking for a body and no longer attempting to find and rescue the little girl.
Madeline and her siblings were left sleeping while their parents went to have dinner only 50 meters away from the apartment. Her parents were originally suspected to have had a hand in her disappearance but were eventually cleared.
After enduring months of investigation following the disappearance and media scrutiny directed at the, The McCanns were allowed to return to the UK in September 2007. Since then, rounds of investigations have followed but with each lead turning cold.
The McCanns then went on to investigate and using private detectives to shed light to the case to no avail. In 2011, Scotland Yard revived the case and started new efforts to find Madeline and called it "Operation Grange."
The new team announced in March this year that they are investigating a string of abductions which occurred between 2004 and 2006 involving 5 girls in the same area where holiday apartments are frequented by families from the UK.
Ground penetrating ground equipment have been deployed in the patch of land that is currently being searched along with a fresh unit of sniffer dogs. Forensic officers in blue overalls were seen concentrating on an area where two tents have been erected.
Metropolitan Police officers and local Portuguese law enforcement also have a heavy presence in the area which is now attracting a growing crowd of media practitioners. The McCann family has expressed dismay in the media attention and the possible disturbance this might cause to the investigation through a statement on the website they started dedicated to the search which is aptly called www.findmadeline.com.
"We are dismayed with the way the media has behaved over the last couple of days in relation to our daughter's case. There is an on-going, already challenging, police investigation taking place and media interference in this way not only makes the work of the police more difficult, it can potentially damage and destroy the investigation altogether - and hence the chances of us finding Madeleine and discovering what has happened to her. As Madeleine's parents, this just compounds our distress. We urge the media to let the police get on with their work and please show some respect and consideration to Madeleine and all our family," said the statement signed by Gerry and Kate.