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Madeleine McCann: 'Search shows our daughter may still be alive'

Kate and Gerry McCann say they are 'encouraged' that no evidence relating to Madeleine has been found in the searches 

Madeleine McCann's parents have said their belief that their missing daughter could still be alive has been reinforced by the fact that police did not find any evidence relating to her during their digs.

Kate and Gerry McCann they are “very pleased” with the search carried out at three sites in Praia da Luz, close to where Madeleine went missing in May 2007.

Locals in the area however have claimed the scrubland search is harming the small resort, and called for police to "just go home".

Officers investigating her disappearance said they found no evidence relating to her after completing their search in Portugal, but confirmed “more activity had been agreed”.

In a statement released through spokesman Clarence Mitchell today, Mr and Mrs McCann said: "We are very pleased that significant activity has taken place in Praia da Luz over the last 10 days with police officers and support teams from the UK working closely with the Policia Judiciaria and the Guarda Nacional Republicana.

"We are further encouraged that despite the intensive searches, no trace of Madeleine has been found and this reinforces our belief that she could still be alive.

"As parents of a missing child, we have always wanted all reasonable lines of inquiry to be followed and it is gratifying to know that a substantial amount of work will take place over the coming months with the close co-operation of the British and Portuguese authorities.

"We would like to thank all those involved for their efforts and the members of the public who have come forward with information."

Waiter Fernando Pereira said the timing of the searches, at the start of the tourist season was a "bloody nuisance" and claimed any further digging is “going to disturb everyone”.

"Everyone's opinion here - and even the British people who live here - is that it's a bit too much now. The British police should just go home."

A local estate agent, who gave his name only as Pedro, said the police investigation was putting off potential buyers when he showed them around properties.

He said: "Suddenly they see a huge police operation and you have to explain. Some people take it very lightly and don't care but others, you can see that they feel very uncomfortable.

"What happened is nothing to do with the people of Praia da Luz but it will always be associated with Madeleine."

Scotland Yard last night said there is "still a substantial amount of work yet to be completed in the coming weeks and months" and the recent activity was only the "first phase of this major investigation which has been agreed with the Portuguese".

The Portuguese have also reopened their inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance but, while they are working with the UK force, have refused to establish an official joint investigation.