Nothing found in Madeleine search

Police investigating the disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann have completed a search in an area of scrubland in Portugal where an anonymous letter claimed that she was buried.

The search was carried out after Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf received an anonymous letter and map indicating where Madeleine's body could be found.

The letter claimed that Madeleine's body is buried in an area of a dirt track in Odiaxere in the Algarve, just over nine miles from Praia da Luz where the four-year-old disappeared on May 3.

The letter said that the child's body could be found buried "north of the road under branches and rocks, around six to seven metres off the road."

The letter is said to resemble another letter, which was sent to the same newspaper last year, indicating where the bodies of two missing Belgian girls were buried.

Police moved into a road in the village of Arao, not far from Praia da Luz, early on Friday morning, cordoned off the area and brought sniffer dogs in.

The village where the search took place lies just north of the main road from Praia da Luz to Faro.

However, the search was called off hours later and Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa told the BBC that the line of enquiry had now been "discarded".

On Thursday, Madeleine's parents criticised the decision by De Telegraaf to publish details of the letter and map before Portuguese police had a chance to investigate the claims.

Writing on a blog on the Find Madeleine web-site, her father Gerry McCann, said: "We feel strongly that this was an irresponsible piece of journalism and even if it were true, is insensitive and cruel."

De Telegraaf have not commented on Mr McCann's comments.

Madeleine McCann disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, while her parents are at a nearby restaurant.


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