Madeleine McCann latest: Parents 'encouraged' by police progress in Portugal

Gerry and Kate McCann said they are being kept updated by officers searching scrubland in the Algarve

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann have said they are “encouraged” by the progress being made by police scouring scrubland in Portugal close to where their daughter went missing seven years ago.

Writing on their Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page on Thursday night, Gerry and Kate McCann said: “We are kept updated on the on-going work in Portugal and are encouraged by the progress.

“Thank you for continuing to stand by us and supporting our efforts to get Madeleine home.”

Officers have entered the fifth day of searching land in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz for clues as to the whereabouts of the then three-year-old, who disappeared in May 2007.

On Thursday British police, accompanied by their Portuguese counterparts, focused on searching drains. A five-man team was seen lifting three manhole covers and lowering a camera attached to a long pole down them, close to an area where ground-penetrating radar equipment was used on Wednesday.

Other officers spent the day working out of sight of the public's gaze and the lenses of the TV crews and press who spent the day watching from the police cordon, which surrounds the site and is being guarded by armed officers day and night.

The operation has also seen forensics officers focusing their attention on a hole that was previously covered by undergrowth.

But it is understood nothing of significance was discovered there, with bones found identified as those of animals.

The land, which is a few minutes' walk from the Ocean Club resort apartment where Madeleine and her family were staying, has been searched before.

The search is likely to go into a second week after British police applied to the judiciary to spend an extra seven days there.

A map showing the locations of the apartment where Madeleine was staying with her family and the area the police are now searching A map showing the locations of the apartment where Madeleine was staying with her family and the area the police are now searching It is not clear whether they will work over the weekend and nothing is expected to be carried out on Tuesday as it is a public holiday.

The McCanns, from Rothley in Leicestershire, have not travelled to Portugal.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Read more: Police erect tent and begin digging in Portugal
Madeleine McCann: The case so far
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee