Madeleine McCann: Police start digging woodland as search is to continue into a third day

As police finish their second day of investigations at Barragem do Arade, ITV News' Emma Murphy has the latest from the scene

Police have been spotted digging a new area of woodland, as the search for Madeleine McCann continues at a remote reservoir in Portugal.

Diggers, heavy machinery and sniffer dogs were brought in, as teams focused on two specific areas around Barragem do Arade in the south of the country.

Officers spent hours cutting back the undergrowth, before using shovels to excavate part of the area - around 30 miles from Praia da Luz, where the three-year-old went missing in 2007.

Police also confirmed the search, as part of an investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine, will continue into a third day.

After arriving on Tuesday, police erected white tents and took several bags from the search area.

Emergency service divers were also seen on a rigid-hull inflatable boat on the water and nearby, officials from Portugal, Germany and the UK were seen holding briefings.

A track leading to the search area was cordoned off with police tape and marked vehicles from Portugal’s National Republican Guard.

Police erected tents around the dam search site on Tuesday. Credit: AP

Portuguese police confirmed on Monday it is coordinating searches in the Algarve at the request of the German force.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell of The Metropolitan Police said officers will be at the scene to inform Madeleine’s family if there are 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.

ITV News understands these tip offs are not from prime suspect Christian Brueckner, 45, or anyone in connection to him.

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 has been reported convicted sex offender Brueckner spent time in the area between 2000 and 2017.

He said the dam area was like a "paradise to him," ITV News understands.

Investigators believe he killed Madeleine after abducting her from a holiday apartment.

Brueckner, who has denied involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance, was first identified as a suspect by German investigators.

In 2020, German police said they were investigating a man in connection with the case called Christian Brueckner. Credit: Police handout

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.

Brueckner is facing charges in Germany over a number of separate sex offences allegedly committed in Portugal during that time.

The Home Office granted an extra £110,000 in funding this financial year for the Metropolitan Police to assist with finding Madeleine, down from just more than £300,000 last year.

The total funding given to Operation Grange is just under £13.1 million since 2011.

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

A timeline of events since Madeleine McCann went missing 16 years ago

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

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

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

They said: “Today marks the 16th anniversary of Madeleine’s abduction.

"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.”

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