Portuguese authorities have given Scotland Yard permission to dig for evidence at the resort where Madeleine McCann went missing seven years ago at the age of 3.
Madeleine’s family has been told that the dig at the Praia de Luzdoes doesn't mean authorities are searching for the girl's body, the Telegraph reported Tuesday. Detectives with Scotland Yard flew to the Algarve in southern Portugal and will have special forensic equipment to search three sites in Madeleine’s disappearance.
Madeleine disappeared as her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, left their villa to dine with British friends at the resort. Her parents believe their daughter is still alive. Metropolitan Police have issued several appeals in Madeleine’s case, including one that led to a new lead in the British girl’s disappearance.
A beach and land beneath one of the resort’s apartments are among the sights to be searched, according to the Telegraph.
"It appears that there is information that was given to the Portuguese over the past seven years that indicated that there might be evidence to be found at certain locations,” said Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt. "It is a breakthrough and it really will launch a new phase in the investigation because this will be the first time that we will see Scotland Yard officers on the ground, not just talking to Portuguese police but working with them in the search for perhaps more tangible evidence."
A source close to the McCanns told the Daily Mail that the family is going through a “heart-breaking and hugely emotional time.” The source slammed authorities for not searching the areas sooner.
“Police have assured Kate and Gerry that it does not mean they are specifically searching for her body,” the source said. “They are doing searches as much as to rule scenarios out as much as rule them in. They will be concentrating on several different places at different phases. Certain areas should have been searched properly way back by the Portuguese authorities but were not.”