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

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The Independent Online

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.

madeleine-mccann-map.jpgIt 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