Tape from petrol station in Portugal may show missing girl: newspaper

Tape from petrol station in Portugal may show missing girl: newspaper
9 May 2007
Agence France Presse

Video from a petrol station surveillance camera depicts a girl who resembles a three-year-old British national who disappeared in Portugal's southern Algarve region, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

A recording from the petrol station along a highway in Lagos shows a girl accompanied by a woman behaving strangely, according to Diario de Noticias newspaper, which cited employees.

Police have not commented on the report and have been tight-lipped on many details of the investigation into the suspected kidnapping of Madeleine "Maddie" McCann, who turns four on Saturday.

The girl disappeared from her room in a seaside resort near the village of Praia da Luz, close to Lagos, in the Algarve on Thursday as her parents ate dinner in a nearby restaurant.

Another newspaper, 24 Horas, reported on Wednesday that police had found a vehicle near Praia da Luz that may have been used by the kidnapper.

Meanwhile, Portugal's ambassador to Britain, Anton Santana Carlos, told BBC television Wednesday that officials were looking at whether Maddie may have been taken out of the country, despite earlier police suggestions she was still in Portugal.

Portuguese police said Tuesday they had called in members of the organised crime unit to help in the hunt. They are in addition to 240 police and fire officers and 20 civilians already involved in the search.

Britain has also sent in kidnapping experts to join three other British investigators who have been in Portugal since Saturday, said John Buck, Britain's ambassador in Lisbon. He did not provide a number.

Portuguese newspapers have previously reported that police were looking into the possibility that an international gang of child sex predators or an adoption ring abducted the girl.

Reports said investigators had a photofit of the man suspected of kidnapping her, but they are holding it back out of fear of endangering Maddie's life.

Her disappearance has been the focus of intense media interest in Portugal, with many press outlets publishing photos of the smiling girl.

On Tuesday, Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Manchester United in Britain, urged anyone with information to come forth and help with the search.

President Anibal Cavaco Silva told Portuguese media he was following the case "with great concern," adding that police, in collaboration with international investigators, were "doing everything to find the child alive."

And Tony Blair's spokesman said Wednesday that the prime minister was following the case closely and that "we are helping in whatever way we can."    

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