'Material' found near Madeleine McCann disappearance site as ...
Police have collected material from a reservoir in Portugal as the first major search for missing British girl Madeleine McCann in almost a decade came to an end.
Portugese police confirmed the three-day operation had drawn to a close and the material gathered from the site would be sent to German authorities for further inspection.
Police remained tight-lipped about whether any clues were found during the search, which involved sniffer dogs and investigators scouring the bank of the Barragem do Arade reservoir near Silves.
The isolated site is about 50 kilometres from Portugal's Praia da Luz resort where the three-year-old disappeared more than 16 years ago.
A 10-metre squared patch of land appeared to be the main focus of the search effort with officers digging deep pot holes where it was apparent soil samples had been removed.
In a statement Portugese police said the search “resulted in the collection of some material that will be subject to the competent expertise”.
“The material collected will be handed over to the German authorities,” police said.
Portugal’s Judicial Police had conducted the search at the request of German authorities, with the presence of British officials.
Speaking of the renewed search effort for Maddie, German prosecutor Christian Wolters said: “Of course we are still looking for the body. We’re not just looking for that, of course. There are other things too. Any discovery of clothing could help our investigation.”
However, a source close to the investigation told Reuters there was "nothing to report" following the three-day operation.
On Tuesday the BBC reported several bags were carried away from the site, although it was not clear what they contained.
It is the first major lead since German police identified Christian Brueckner as an official suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance in June 2020.
German authorities said Madeleine was assumed dead and Brueckner was responsible, having lived and committed several sexual offences in the Algarve region at the same time.
The 45-year-old has denied any involvement, and is currently behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same Portuguese region Madeleine disappeared.
This is not the first time the dam has been searched. Specialist divers were previously hired in 2008 by a Portuguese lawyer to explore the dam on a tip-off but to no avail.
The last time a significant operation was conducted in Portugal was in 2014, when British police searched the bushland near the resort she disappeared in.