Madeleine McCann: Police searching reservoir in Portugal ‘told to look for her pink pyjamas’

Searches as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are taking place in Portugal (PA Media)
Searches as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are taking place in Portugal (PA Media)

Police searching in and around a Portuguese reservoir in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are reportedly looking for scraps of her clothing.

Reports say officers have been instructed to search for pieces of the pink pyjamas the three-year-old was wearing on the night she went missing in 2007.

The fresh searches at the Barragem do Arade – around 30 miles from where Madeleine went missing in the Algarve’s Praia da Luz resort – is allegedly linked to photographs of the reservoir found at the hideout of German man Christian Brueckner.

 (PA)
(PA)

A convicted child abuser and prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance, Brueckner reportedly spent time in the area between 2000 and 2017.

The 45-year-old is behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same area of the Algarve from where Madeleine went missing.

Investigators believe he killed Madeleine after abducting her from the Algarve holiday apartment at which she was staying with her family.

Police are combing the banks of the reservoir with the help of sniffer dogs, rakes and pickaxes.

Tuesday saw officers concentrate their search at one area of the reservoir. White tents were erected on a hill on the banks, while officers were seen removing a number of large bags from the zone.

 (PA)
(PA)

Uniformed and plain-clothed officers spent hours scouring the banks – hammering away at the ground with pickaxes and combing through small rocks with rakes and spades.

Further around the water, emergency services and officials from Portugal, Germany and the UK were seen holding briefings near blue police tents.

Emergency service divers were seen entering the water on a rigid-hull inflatable boat early on Tuesday morning.

A no-fly zone has been put in place over the water and media and other onlookers are being kept a mile back from the site of the search.

Portuguese police confirmed on Monday that they are co-ordinating searches in the Algarve at the request of German police and in the presence of British officers.

The Metropolitan Police said officers will be there in order to inform Madeleine’s family if there are any developments.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell said: “The Met continues to work with and support colleagues in Portugal and Germany, with their investigations into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

“Met officers will be in Portugal and I am grateful to the Policia Judiciaria and Bundeskriminalamt for allowing us to be present whilst their work is ongoing, so that we can inform Madeleine’s family of any developments.”

A brief statement from the prosecutor’s office in the German city of Braunschweig confirmed the search, but did not reveal why it was taking place.

Braunschweig prosecutor Christian Wolters told reporters that investigators were acting on the basis of “certain tips” but would not give further details.

Four teams of officers from the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria are involved in the operation, along with at least 20 of their German counterparts, Portuguese news outlet SIC said.

It is not the first time the reservoir has been searched.

In 2008, Portuguese lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia paid for specialist divers to scour it after he claimed to have been tipped off by criminal contacts that Madeleine’s body was there.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The most recent search in Portugal in relation to her disappearance took place nine years ago in 2014, when British police were given permission to examine scrubland near where she vanished.

Earlier this month, her parents Kate and Gerry McCann posted a short statement on their Find Madeleine Campaign website to mark the anniversary of her disappearance.

“Today marks the 16th anniversary of Madeleine’s abduction,” they wrote. “Still missing… still very much missed.

“It is hard to find the words to convey how we feel.

“The police investigation continues, and we await a breakthrough.”

The search continues.