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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Police in Madeleine investigation 'to extend search' for seven days

Published 04/06/2014 | 17:41

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Portuguese police move a tent at an area during the search for missing British girl Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz, near Lagos, June 4, 2014. McCann was three when she disappeared from her room at the Praia da Luz holiday resort in the Algarve in May 2007 while her parents were dining with friends at a nearby restaurant, prompting a global hunt and worldwide headlines.  REUTERS/Rafael Marchante (PORTUGAL - Tags: SOCIETY CRIME LAW)
Portuguese police move a tent at an area during the search for missing British girl Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz, near Lagos
A Scotland Yard detective wearing a forensic suit works at an area during the search for missing British girl Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz, near Lagos, June 4, 2014. McCann was three when she disappeared from her room at the Praia da Luz holiday resort in the Algarve in May 2007 while her parents were dining with friends at a nearby restaurant, prompting a global hunt and worldwide headlines.  REUTERS/Rafael Marchante (PORTUGAL - Tags: SOCIETY CRIME LAW)
A Scotland Yard detective wearing a forensic suit works at an area during the search for missing British girl Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz, near Lagos
Scotland Yard detectives work at an area during the search for missing British girl Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz, near Lagos, June 4, 2014. McCann was three when she disappeared from her room at the Praia da Luz holiday resort in the Algarve in May 2007 while her parents were dining with friends at a nearby restaurant, prompting a global hunt and worldwide headlines.  REUTERS/Rafael Marchante (PORTUGAL - Tags: SOCIETY CRIME LAW)
Scotland Yard detectives work at an area during the search for missing British girl Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz, near Lagos

British police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have applied to the Portuguese authorities to search an area of scrubland for an extra seven days.

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Police had originally been given until Friday to conduct searches in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, where the youngster went missing in May 2007, but it is now understood they will be able to remain on the site for an extra week, pending approval.

The development comes as officers spent a third day probing the site, with forensics officers concentrating on one area which was previously hidden by undergrowth and ground-penetrating radar equipment being used.

This week, forensics officers began probing an area of previously hidden ground during the search of scrubland close to where Madeleine was last seen in Portugal seven years ago.

Two men in white overalls were seen entering a tent today which has been erected on a spot of interest to police in Praia da Luz on the Algarve.

The area, which was covered by undergrowth until yesterday, has already been subject to fingertip searches by officers in Metropolitan Police uniforms.

Two white gazebo-style tents were put up and connected together to hide the scene from the TV crews and press watching from the other side of the police cordon nearby.

They placed it on top of a spot where a piece of corrugated iron was discovered beneath undergrowth yesterday.

The section of metal, which is understood to have covered up a void in the ground, was then taken away by officers.

Local forestry workers have been clearing large areas of undergrowth within the scrubland to aid the search.

Another patch that was previously overgrown was earlier scanned with ground-penetrating radar equipment to probe for disturbed earth.

A man in plain clothes and without any police insignia wheeled the device along a section of ground.

The device uses radar pulses to take images of the subsurface of the ground to check for any anomalies.

It can be used to check for disturbances in a variety of substances, including rock, soil, ice and fresh water. It can also detect voids and cracks in buildings and under pavements.

The developments came during a third day of investigations by British police and their Portuguese counterparts as they search for clues as to what happened to Madeleine, who vanished while on holiday in the resort in May 2007, aged three.

The radar device was later brought out again in the same area as before.

It was moved along the ground by a woman dressed in black, accompanied by the same man as earlier.

A white tent was also brought over to the spot from another position as the device searched the ground nearby.

Five officers in forensics suits and face masks were later seen going into the tent.

A man in plain clothes and also wearing a mask then took a wheelbarrow inside and out again with a cover on top of it, disguising what was inside.

He repeated this for a second time before disappearing into another tent 100 yards away.

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