3 Jun 2014

McCann sniffer dogs begin wasteland search

Detectives are using sniffer dogs to explore wasteland in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz, for further clues into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann seven years ago.

Sniffer dogs are searching the area just 300 yards away from the apartment where the four-year-old girl disappeared in May 2007. Police teams from Portugal and the UK are participating in the search, which could involve the use of ground-penetrating radars and excavation machines later this week.

Tents have appeared at the scrubland, which has been sealed off by officials. The area was identified by comparing satellite photos taken before the girl vanished with new ones taken this week by military planes.

South Wales Police confirmed that two specialist dog handlers and victim detection dogs, used for finding hidden bodies, were helping with the investigation. Two English springer spaniels were also used during the search for murdered schoolgirl April Jones in 2012, the force said.

Madeleine disappeared from an apartment holiday in Praia da Luz on the night of 3 May 2007 while her parents, Gerry and Kate, were dining at a nearby tapas bar. Her parents were named as official suspects by Portuguese police four months after her disappearance, but they were cleared in 2008 and Portugal’s public prosecutor later dropped the case, citing a lack of evidence.

London police launched a review of the case in 2011 after the couple wrote to British Prime Minister David Cameron saying that not enough was being done to find their daughter. British police revealed last July that they had begun their own investigation.

The latest hunt comes after Scotland Yard made a request to Portuguese police.

A sniffer dog at work (credit: Getty Images)