Madeleine's parents 'encouraged' as police search of Portugal scrubland continues
British police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have been searching drains as the probe of scrubland close to where she went missing in Portugal seven years ago entered a fourth day.
A five-man team made up of British and Portuguese officers was seen lifting three manhole covers and lowering a camera attached to a long pole down them.
One of them wrote notes in a book as they looked inside, around 20ft from where ground-penetrating radar equipment was used in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz yesterday.
One of the men also lowered a tape measure into the drains, which were just inside the cordon set up around the large area of scrubland.
Other officers spent the day working out of sight of the public's gaze, and the lenses of the TV crews and press who spent the day watching from the police cordon, which surrounds the site and is being guarded by armed officers day and night.
The search of the area for clues as to what happened to Madeleine, who disappeared aged three in May 2007, is likely to go into a second week after British police applied to the judiciary to spend an extra seven days there.
It is not clear whether they will work over the weekend and nothing is expected to be carried out on Tuesday as it is a public holiday.
Another hole was also dug today near the spot where the radar equipment was previously used.
The hole was then covered with a white tent and an officer was seen using a small paintbrush on some of the large pile of earth that had been dug out outside.
The area was marked with a small yellow flag, which have been dotted around the site at points of interest to the police.
Earlier Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, the senior officer investigating the case, looked on as a group of his officers used pickaxes and spades to clear leaves and grass from the area, which yesterday saw local forestry workers hacking away at the undergrowth.
The Portuguese workers spent a third day using strimmers and chainsaws, this time on an area on the opposite side of the wasteland, close to the sea.
Yesterday the land being searched, which is a few minutes' walk from the Ocean Club resort apartment where Madeleine and her family were staying, saw officers focusing their investigations on a hole that had been previously covered by undergrowth.
But it is understood nothing of significance was discovered there, with bones found identified as those of animals.
Forensics officers could be seen inside sifting through soil in sieves, with earth also carried away in wheelbarrows.
Tonight the sides of the white tent which covered it were removed to reveal several plastic evidence bags lined up in a row before they were carried away by Portuguese officers.
Sniffer dogs from South Wales Police, which were used in the search for schoolgirl April Jones, have also been used on the site, and were seen with their handlers earlier today.
Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have not flown out to Portugal but are being kept informed of any developments that occur.
Writing on their Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page, the McCanns said they were feeling "encouraged" by this week's events.
"We are kept updated on the on-going work in Portugal and are encouraged by the progress," the message said.
"Thank you for continuing to stand by us and supporting our efforts to get Madeleine home."
The message was signed off "Gerry and Kate".