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Mother's Day tears for Madeleine's family

Original Source: TELEGRAPH: 07 MAY 2010
By Richard Edwards and Fiona Govan in Praia da Luz

Madeleine McCann went missing in Praia da Luz on Thursday

Map of the complex where Madeleine McCann was kidnapped

A Portuguese woman weeps as she is given a flower at the Mother's Day service where prayers were said for Madeleine


The mother of Madeleine McCann, the British toddler abducted while on holiday in Portugal, led tearful prayers yesterday as hopes faded in the search for her daughter.

Yesterday was mothering Sunday in Portugal. After attending a special Roman Catholic mass in Praia da Luz yesterday Kate McCann said: "Please continue to pray for Madeleine."

Concern are growing for the toddler who was snatched from her bed in the resort on Thursday night. The search for the missing girl, involving hundreds of officers, has extended more than five miles from where she was snatched.

It was disclosed last night that a sketch of a "prime" suspect announced at the weekend shows only the back of his head. It is believed a witness fleetingly saw a man in the area with a small blonde child on Thursday night.

During yesterday's emotional service in a small church less than a mile from where Madeleine disappeared, a dozen local children gave roses to their mothers and offered them prayers of thanks.

Mrs McCann, 39, a Catholic, attended the service with her husband Gerald and broke down as she was given five pink and red roses at the church.

Among the verses sung was one with the poignant words: "My mother, today I want to wake up and have you beside me. Today I want to be able to sing to you my everlasting love."

Throughout the service Mrs McCann clutched a small cuddly toy, a favourite of her daughter, and kissed it as she cried.

Father Jose Manuel Pacheco told the congregation: "Our hearts are full of compassion, like God's. We pray that Madeleine will be brought home to the heart of her family."

Turning to the parents, he said: "We are with you. Courage. Courage. Courage."

After the service Mrs McCann said: "I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to everybody, particularly the local community here who have offered so much support. I couldn't have asked for more. I just want to say thank you. Please continue to pray for Madeleine. She's lovely."

Emily Seromenho, 14, whose mother Sarah comes from Ascot, Berkshire, told how she had given the flowers to Mrs McCann.

She said: "I felt that she was very, very sad, she was crying a lot and I felt sad as well. I told her to give the flowers to Mary. She said thank you."

Explaining the custom she said: "Today in Portugal is Mother's Day and if you are with your mother in church you bring flowers and give them to your mother and afterwards we go and give the flowers to Mary at the altar.

"It's just saying thank you for being my mother." Madeleine, who will be four on Saturday, was taken from her bed in the ground floor apartment she was sharing with her parents at the Mark Warner Ocean Summer Club between 9.30pm and 10pm on Thursday.

Her father, a consultant cardiologist, and mother, a part-time GP, both 39, were eating with friends at a tapas bar a minute's walk away and had been making regular trips back to the apartment to check on Madeleine and their twin son and daughter Sean and Amelie, who were sleeping in cots next to her.

It is believed the couple entered the apartment through patio doors, which they left unlocked.

Police sources said the suspect was most likely watching the apartment for some time and knew the parents left their children as they went for dinner.

Local media are pessimistic about the police investigation as it was revealed that detectives do not have a known suspect in mind.

It was also claimed that Portuguese border police were not informed of Madeleine's disappearance until 12 hours after the abduction, giving a suspect time to get across the border into Spain.

Yesterday police said they believed Madeleine was alive and still in Portugal. They have not elaborated on how they came to these conclusions.

However it is believed they are working on the assumption that she is alive only because they have yet to find any evidence to suggest she is dead, rather than because of specific intelligence.

Thousands of empty, private holiday homes in the resort are making the search more difficult. Police want to search each one in case it is being used as a den by the abductor.


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