Madeleine McCann: Materials found in Portugal search to be investigated by German police

Police have been searching Barragem do Arade reservoir for three days, as Emma Murphy speaks from Portugal

Items found in the fresh police search in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann will be investigated.

Portuguese police said on Thursday the materials will be handed over to the German authorities, as it confirmed the investigation at a remote Portuguese dam was finished.

The large scale police search ended at 4pm on Thursday.

Briefing tents were taken down and heavy machinery was removed from the site in the afternoon, and German teams as well as Scotland Yard left the area.

ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy at the scene of the dig as investigations wrap up

Officers concentrated their search at an area of woodland, at the Barragem do Arade reservoir, around 30 miles from Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing in 2007, as the search entered a third day.

This has now been flattened, with eight small holes dug with shovels.

The cordon around the site has since been lifted, and evidence of attempts to cut the vast undergrowth was clear, with large branches and bushes lining freshly made pathways.

In a statement, the Portuguese force added it had worked in partnership with British and German emergency services and all the materials will be handed over to the German force.

Heavy machinery was used to cut through the vast undergrowth as part of the digging operation, which began on Wednesday, while a mixture of uniformed and plain-clothed officers raked the ground.

ITV News understands Thursday's searches, conducted by police from Portugal, Germany and the UK, also saw officers begin to study the water around the reservoir.

When the work began on Tuesday, search teams were seen scouring the banks, hammering at the ground with pickaxes and combing through small rocks with rakes and spades.

Around a dozen officers with sniffer dogs were also at the site, while the fire service boat took officers onto the water.

Portuguese newspaper Expresso said that the first day ended with no significant results, and that police had collected some objects, including fabrics and garments.

Personnel clear undergrowth with machinery at Barragem do Arade reservoir. Credit: PA

The fresh searches are being carried out at the request of German investigators who believe their prime suspect, convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner, 45, kidnapped and murdered the youngster.

He is currently in prison in Germany for the rape of a woman in Praia da Luz in 2005, and is suspected of further rapes and child sexual abuse committed in the area between 2000 and 2017.

German authorities have not revealed what triggered the latest search operation, but Christian Wolters, the prosecutor for the city of Braunschweig, said they were acting on the basis of "certain tips".

ITV News understands these tip-offs are not from Brueckner or anyone in connection to him.

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

Madeleine vanished while on holiday with her parents in Praia da Luz, after they left her and her younger twin siblings asleep in their apartment while they went out to dinner with friends.

Portuguese lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia previously claimed criminal contacts had told him Madeleine's body was in the reservoir, and in 2008 he raised funds for unsuccessful private searches of the water.

Madeleine's disappearance has attracted enormous media attention since she vanished, and reporters are being kept at arm's length around a mile away from where search activity is taking place.

A no-fly zone has also been imposed over the reservoir.

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