Fresh appeal over missing girl

Note from TRUTH For Madeleine: This story originally appeared on May 5. It was heavily modified and then republished on Sunday May 6 and is reproduced here.

Last Updated: Sunday, 6 May 2007, 06:56 GMT 07:56 UK

The parents of a three-year-old girl feared abducted in Portugal have made a fresh appeal for information that could lead to her safe return.

Doctors Gerry and Kate McCann, from Leicestershire, also said they appreciated the “significant efforts” being made to find Madeleine.

Portuguese police say they have a suspect in mind and believe the toddler is still alive and in the area.

She vanished from a holiday apartment while her parents were at a restaurant.

The McCanns were on holiday at Mark Warner’s Ocean Club in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz when Madeleine disappeared on Thursday.

Speaking outside their apartment with his wife, Mr McCann said: “We have no further information regarding the investigation but appreciate the significant effort everyone is making on our behalf.

“We would again like to appeal for any information, however small, that may lead to the safe return of Madeleine.”

In a statement on Friday Mr McCann made a first appeal for help and spoke of his family’s “anguish and despair”.

Prayers will be said in churches in Praia Da Luz on Sunday for the safe return of the girl.

Artist’s impression

In the first official briefing on the case on Saturday, Guilhermino Encarnacao, director of the judicial police in the Faro region, said officers were working on the assumption Madeleine was being held between 3km and 5km (about two to three miles) from the resort.

He said police had taken about 30 calls from potential witnesses and have created an artist’s impression of a suspect.

Responding to criticism that the police had been slow to respond, Mr Encarnacao said officers arrived at the scene 10 minutes after being alerted to the disappearance.

An investigation unit began work within 30 minutes, he added.

Relatives have flown to the Algarve to be with the couple, from Rothley, who were holidaying with their three children.

Window opened

The Ocean Club resort offers a creche service but the couple decided to leave Madeleine and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie sleeping in the apartment while they went to a nearby restaurant.

They had taken turns to return to check on their children.

Madeleine, who turns four next Friday, was last seen by her father at about 2100 local time.

When Mrs McCann went to check on her about an hour later, she found the bedroom’s outside shutter and window had been opened and her daughter missing.

Resort staff and guests helped the McCanns search the complex grounds into Friday morning and police were notified.

Pictures of Madeleine have been widely distributed, and ports and the Spanish police put on alert.

British Ambassador John Buck, who is with the McCanns in the Algarve, said they had been joined by three family liaison officers from Leicestershire Police.

Mr McCann’s sister Philomena criticised the Portuguese police for initially “playing down” their response to the disappearance.

But she said the family was elated to hear police believed Madeleine was still alive.

“There was a distinct feeling of elation, you know – but it’s been a while since we actually heard it and it’s really important to keep your emotions in check,” she said.

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