Police investigating the 2007 disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann are searching a sealed-off area of scrubland in the Portuguese resort where the three-year-old went missing, the BBC reported today.
An area was taped off in the Praia da Luz holiday resort in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. Detectives said in May the seven-year search was heading towards "a substantial stage of activity".
Officers are expected at some stage to use dogs and "ground penetrating radar" to search the scrubland, looking for signs of disturbed earth, the BBC says.
Maddie disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007 while her parents dined with friends at a nearby restaurant, prompting a global search and headlines worldwide.
Her parents Kate and Gerry were last night said to be bracing for "significant news".
Despite the international attention, the fate of the young girl remains a mystery. British police began a review of the case in 2011 at the instigation of Prime Minister David Cameron following appeals from her parents, and then launched their own investigation which has thrown up a number of leads.
British police declined to comment on the activity in Praia da Luz on Monday.
Missing Madeleine McCann
At the seventh anniversary of her disappearance last month, Mr and Mrs McCann thanked the public for their unstinting support and Mr McCann expressed his family's gratitude that the police investigating Madeleine's disappearance were moving on to a ''very active'' phase in their investigation, saying: ''They are chipping away and obviously there is new evidence so we are going to continue to hope that we will get a happy outcome.''
Members of the Portuguese police arrive to guard an area in Praia da Luz. REUTERS/Carlos Vidigal
Earlier this year, Mrs McCann disclosed that she privately returns to the Portuguese resort where her daughter disappeared to ''walk those streets'' and ''look for answers'', as she backed a revamped alert system triggered when missing children are kidnapped or their lives are at risk - known as Child Rescue Alerts.