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How Madeleine McCann search at reservoir unfolded – and what police found

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The long-running hunt for missing Madeleine McCann returned to headlines last week, during a three-day search of a Portuguese reservoir.

Acting on tip-offs, police searched the remote Barragem do Arade reservoir in Portugal last week, an area that prime suspect Christian Brueckner frequented from 2000 to 2017.

Although police are remaining tight-lipped about the details they did confirm “materials collected” had been sent to Germany for analysis in the ongoing mystery of Madeleine’s disappearance on 3 May 2007.

Authorities planning their search at the Arade dam area in Portugal


And a “relevant clue” was found during the police operation in the Algarve last week, Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha reported.

Separately, investigators are set to widen the search again after photographs belonging to 43 year-old Brueckner were also said to have revealed clues.

With help from Portuguese police, and with Scotland Yard detectives watching on, German investigators scoured the beauty spot 16 miles from Silves, near the southern coast of the country.

Starting on Monday last week, investigators sealed off a mile-long peninsula jutting into the reservoir and set up tents as an operations base.

They then spent three days digging with shovels, cutting back swaths of undergrowth and using rakes and pickaxes to sweep the banks of the reservoir, leaving behind piles of rubble.

The reservoir is 31 miles from the Praia da Luz holiday resort, where Madeleine went missing

(Google Maps)

At the main 160sq-ft excavation area, they flattened a concentrated area of woodland with heavy machinery, and dug holes 2ft deep.

Using sniffer dogs to hunt the surrounding grassland for clues, detectives in a rigid-hull inflatable boat also examined the water.

A no-fly zone in place in the skies overhead allowed police drones to survey the region undisturbed.

Search teams at work during the operation that last most of the week


The Barragem do Arade reservoir had been searched years before

(PA Wire)

A track leading to the search area was cordoned off with police tape and marked vehicles from Portugal’s National Republican Guard. What appeared to be evidence bags were removed from the scene.

The dam, which is 31 miles northeast of the Praia da Luz coastal resort from which Madeleine disappeared, was built in 1955 and is fed by the Arade river.

Specialist divers had previously searched the reservoir in 2008, paid for by Portuguese lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia, who claimed to have been tipped off by criminal contacts that Madeleine’s body was there.

Teams searched the water during the investigation


Two other areas near Praia da Luz could also be searched by police, The Sun reported.

Investigators looking through more than 8,000 photographs belonging to Brueckner said they had yielded more clues.

Brueckner, who denies any connection to Madeleine, is in jail in Germany for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman two years before the three-year-old vanished at the same resort.

Madeleine ’s parents Kate and Gerry with a photo of how she would have looked when older

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

German prosecutor Christian Wolters said the investigators were looking for a body, as well as anything that could help the investigation, such as clothing. Their investigation will be continuing out of the public eye, he added.

As such, Madeleine’s parents will have to wait several weeks to find out the results of the analysis of the materials found as their 16-year wait for answers continues.