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Parents tell of fight to shield Madeleine twins

Original Source: TELEGRAPH: 21 MAY 2010
By Olga Craig in Praia da Luz, Sunday Telegraph
The parents of Madeleine McCann have described for the first time how they are struggling to keep a normal family routine as the search for their missing four-year-old continues.

Determined to shield their two-year-old twins, Amelie and Sean, from the horror of their sister's abduction, Kate and Gerry McCann, both 38, told how the toddlers "still think they are on holiday" in Praia da Luz on the Algarve.

Mrs McCann said that every night she and her husband "pray for Madeleine, that she will be returned to us safely as soon as possible".

Cards from well-wishers festoon the walls of their accommodation, among thousands that have been sent to the Leicestershire family - some addressed simply to: "The McCanns, Portugal."

Photographs show Mr McCann kissing Amelie's doll and his wife cutting up sausages and baked beans to feed the twins. Madeleine, however, is always on her parents' minds. The couple, both doctors, described how they wake at 6.30am each day with their missing girl their first thought.

Seventeen days after the abduction, Mrs McCann, cuddling Sean with one arm and holding Madeleine's favourite Cuddle Cat toy in the other, said she remained convinced her daughter would be found alive.

Away from helping to co-ordinate the massive effort to find Madeleine, the couple devote time to their twins, taking them to the resort's crèche every day. "They both really enjoy it and run in," Mrs McCann said. "Amelie likes to look after the babies. They have been painting, singing, swimming, had trips to the beach and they have lots of toys to play with."

Yesterday, it emerged that Portuguese police had flown to Britain where they were expected to interview the estranged wife of Robert Murat. Mr Murat is the only official suspect in the case. The hunt has also been extended to north Africa.

As the number of hits on a website set up to help find Madeleine reached 75 million, a video on her was shown at the FA Cup Final at Wembley yesterday.

Meanwhile, the effort to keep life as normal as possible for the twins, in the face of the extraordinary scale of the search and the huge outpouring of sympathy, has included them having tea with other children in the resort.

"They have been doing well with their vegetables, but a few chips have been squeezed in," said Mrs McCann, her hair tied with ribbons of green and yellow, which symbolise hope in Portugal.

"In the evening we try to sit down for a family meal with our relations. We chat about the day's events and plan the next day. At 11.30pm it's bed, once we have prayed for Madeleine's safe return."


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