desperate search for a three-year-old British girl continued
last night after she disappeared from an upmarket beach resort
in Portugal while
her parents dined near by.
Despite their half-hourly checks on her as she slept, Madeleine
McCann went missing from her parents? rented holiday apartment
on Thursday night as they ate tapas only 50 yards away.
Relatives claimed that she had been abducted from the Ocean Club
resort, run by the holiday company Mark Warner, in the seaside village of Praia da Luz.
parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, both 38-year-old doctors from
Rothley, Leicestershire, were being comforted last night by
friends and consular officials.
Madeleine, known as Maddy, vanished after being left to sleep
between her brother and sister, two-year-old twins.
McCann and his wife, who
was clutching Madeleine's pink teddy bear to her chest, made a
public appeal last night for the return of their daughter.
Mr McCann said: ?Words
cannot describe the anguish and concern we are feeling at the
loss of our daughter Madeleine. We now request that if you have
any information about Madeleine's disappearance, no matter how
trivial, contact the Portuguese police so we can have her back.
Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come back to mummy, daddy
brother and sister.?
family have moved to another apartment 150 yards from the one
from where their daughter is said to have been taken.
McCanns went to Portugal last Saturday with a group
of eight couples, friends said. Mr McCann, a cardiologist, and
his wife, a GP, went out for a meal at a tapas bar within the
complex at 8.30pm on Thursday, leaving Madeleine sleeping
between Sean and Amelie, the twins. The couple checked on their
children every half an hour and ensured that the doors were
locked, it was said.
resort offered a creche service but the McCanns chose to leave
the children sleeping at the apartment, taking turns to check on
them. Between their checks at 9.30pm and 10pm, the apartment was
broken into through a window and Madeleine was taken, according
to her aunt. Trish Cameron, Mr McCann's sister, from Dum-barton,
said it appeared that someone had been spying on Madeleine and
had targeted her for abduction.
?The front door was open, the window had been tampered with, the
shutters had been jemmied open and Madeleine was missing,? she
said. ?Nothing had been touched in the apartment, no valuables
taken, no passports. They think someone must have come in the
window and gone out the door with her.?
Police were called at 10.20pm as Madeleine's parents became
increasingly anxious. Soon, fellow guests were notified. About
60 staff and holidaymakers searched until 4.30am, while police
notified border police, Spanish police and airports.
Three police vans and three police cars were at the scene as
officers searched the family's apartment. Others searched the
beach 200 yards away.
Specialists fingerprinted the windowsill of the apartment.
Sniffer dogs were brought in by Portuguese detectives and
unconfirmed reports indicated that Madeleine's scent had been
resort caters for 1,000 holidaymakers and is set in lush
subtropical gardens. It is made up of self-catering villas and
apartment blocks and has several bars and restaurants.
John Hill, the manager at Ocean Club, said that reports that the
flat had been broken into had yet to be confirmed.
Jill Renwick, a family friend, told GMTV that the McCanns were
certain that Madeleine had been abducted.
?They were just watching the hotel room and going back every
half-hour and the shutters had been broken open and they had
gone into the room and taken Madeleine,? she said. ?They went
out about 8, went back in at 9, they were fine, went back in at
10 and she was gone.?
Renwick said that it was the McCanns? first holiday of this
sort. ?They are very, very anxious parents and very careful, and
they chose Mark Warner because it is a family-friendly resort.?
spokesman for Mark Warner, which has run the resort for two
years, said that looking after the McCanns was their priority.
?If necessary, the company will fly other family members out to
the Ocean Club. We are all hoping that she is asleep under a
bush somewhere and we will find her soon,? he said.
Guests are being asked if they saw anyone acting suspiciously in
the area, he said, adding that Mark Warner had never had cases
of missing or abducted children before.
said that Mark Warner offered a baby-sitting service. ?Those
facilities were available but, for whatever reason, they were
not being used,? he said. Another spokeswoman for Mark Warner
said that in the Algarve, unlike
most of their resorts, the company did not supply a ?room
listening? service, where nannies regularly listen at the door
of sleeping children.
John Stephen Buck, the British Ambassador to Portugal, travelled to the Algarve
yesterday, as did Craig Mayhew, Mark Warner UK operations
director, and a counsellor. The McCanns remain at the police
station in Portim?, helping police to piece together what has
Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said that the Serious
Organised Crime Agency was liaising with British and Portuguese
police. He added that two officials from the British Consulate
in Portim? were with the family.