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Sniffer dogs used in Madeleine McCann search

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SNIFFER dogs are being used to search an area of scrubland close to where Madeleine McCann, from Leicestershire, went missing in Portugal seven years ago.

The development came as British officers, accompanied by their Portuguese counterparts, spent a second day investigating the hilly area in the resort of Praia da Luz on the Algarve.

Two sniffer dogs accompanied by British police spent around five minutes on a flat area of the scrubland, at the bottom of a slope.

They were then taken away out of sight, while around 10 officers stood around in discussion.

Specialist teams are thought to be using ground-penetrating radar equipment to probe the ground, looking for disturbed earth.

The large section of land is being guarded day and night by armed local police with dogs, and a large yellow-and-white cordon was put in place ahead of the search for clues about Madeleine, who disappeared in May 2007 aged three.

A number of small tents have been erected inside the cordon, thought to be where officers are concentrating their efforts.

The land, a few minutes’ walk from the Ocean Club resort apartment where Madeleine was staying with her family, has been searched before.

South Wales Police confirmed that two specialist dog handlers and victim detection dogs were helping with the investigation.

The English springer spaniels, called Tito and Muzzy, were also used during the search for murdered schoolgirl April Jones in 2012, the force said.

A spokesman said: “Two South Wales Police specialist dog handlers, and victim detection dogs, have been deployed to assist with the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

“The officers are working as part of a small team of British police officers, led by Metropolitan Police Service in conjunction with the Portuguese authorities.”

Victim detection dogs can be used for finding hidden bodies as well as searching for people in disasters, and can be used in a variety of locations, including buildings, open areas and vehicles.

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