Portuguese Madeleine search continues

A day after hopes of finding missing British girl Madeleine McCann were dashed once more, Portuguese police were reported Thursday to be continuing the search for her body.

The daily Diario de Noticias, quoting an anonymous police source, said investigators had not given up the search for the four-year-old, but would carry out ”excavations” only if ”credible leads” were found.

Portuguese police continue to believe that Madeleine died accidentally in her parents’ holiday apartment and that they hid the body, according to Diario de Noticias.

The report followed a false lead given by a Spanish tourist who had photographed a blonde girl in Morocco.

The girl turned out not to be Madeleine, but five-year-old Bushra Binhisa, a pretty Berber girl whose picture appeared on the front pages of newspapers worldwide Thursday.

Meanwhile in Britain, the parents of Madeleine, Kate and Gerry McCann, said they remained ”philosophical” about the hunt for their missing daughter despite the disappointment over the tourist photograph.

The Portuguese police have named the parents as formal suspects in the case, but they deny any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, on the Algarve, on May 3.

Underlining the tension that continues to surround the Madeleine investigation, Spain’s leading El Pais newspaper Thursday carried a scathing comment on the Morocco photograph episode.

”Every day the McCann couple create new facts in the media. They are distraction manoeuvres,” the paper quoted Carlos Anjos, president of the police trade union, Asfic, as saying.

The parents, who believe Madeleine is still alive, have charged a private security firm, Control Risk Group (CRG) with the search for Madeleine.

They were Thursday reported to be planning to launch a new 80,000-pound (160,000 dollar) advertising campaign in Portugal, Spain and Morocco, to be financed from donations made to a non-charitable fund set up to find Madeleine.

In the McCann’s home village of Rothley, in the British Midlands, charity volunteers were Thursday packing up more than 2,000 cuddly toys and dolls left by well-wishers over the past five months.

The gifts will be sent to two orphanages in Belarus, according to the McCann’s wishes.

The homes, in Zhodina, some 30 kilometres from Minks, the Belarus capital, and Bobrusk, in the south, will receive the shipment of toys as part of Operation Christmas Child.

”It is incredible knowing that this family was thinking of other children whilst they are in such turmoil themselves,” said charity organizer Jane Simmonds.

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