Police have sealed off an area of scrubland near a resort in southern Portugal Monday as part of the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a 3-year-old British girl who went missing seven years ago.
Yellow and white police tape have been placed along the perimeter of an area about the size of a soccer field just outside of Praia da Luz resort where Madeleine went missing in May 2007. The area had previously been searched in the days after her disappearance. Portuguese and British authorities said they have reviewed new information into Madeleine’s disappearance, which led to the latest decision to search the wasteland adjacent to the resort.
Authorities are expected to search the area for days using radar equipment to look for anomalies in the underground terrain. British police were seen unloading equipment from vans onto a mound in the middle of the search area at 11:15 a.m. local time, Sky News reported.
"They wouldn't just be identifying that part by plucking it out of thin air they have obviously got hard information and the evidence trail is leading to that particular area," Former Metropolitan Police search adviser Keith Farquharson told Sky News. He expects the area to be divided into smaller areas and any anomalies will be further investigated using recovery dogs.
In 2008, the Madeleine case was closed because authorities could not detect a crime. Last year, the public prosecutor's office in Lisbon reopened the case where new leads have emerged. In 2011, British police launched Operation Grange and sifted through Portuguese case files to identify what happened to Madeleine.
The 3-year-old vanished when her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, left their villa to dine with British friends at the resort. The McCanns are not expected to travel to Portugal but will be kept up to date with any developments.