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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 May 2007, 18:50 GMT 19:50 UK
Volunteers join Madeleine search
Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann went missing on Thursday

As the search for missing three-year-old Madeleine McCann continues, hundreds of volunteers have offered their services.

Tourists, local people and expat residents alike have turned up at the Mark Warner village in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz to join the hunt.

So far approximately 800 of them have helped comb an area between 3-5km from the resort alongside teams of police officers and firefighters, as well as members of the Red Cross.

Local bar owner James Wright, who has lived in the area for 21 years, was working when he first heard about the search operation.

'Hands on'

"One of the Mark Warner reps came in and said: 'We've got a missing girl'," he recalled.

"We all just stopped what we were doing and all just left with them.

Map of Praia da Luz
We have been looking in the bins, we've been looking on the pathways
Dave Shelton

"The whole village was hands on, all the locals, all the holidaymakers came out, all the bar people - everybody just came out to help.

"I can't really believe it's happened. It's usually a very peaceful village; we never hear of things like this."

With police using sniffer dogs to investigate the densely-packed complexes of holiday apartments at the heart of the village, most of the volunteers have been sent to cover the outskirts.

They are directed to the heathland, hills and isolated farms which surround Praia da Luz.

Once their patch has been scoured, they return to mark it off on a map in the mayor's office and are sent out to another location.

One of the co-ordinators of the search is Manchester-born Dave Shelton, 38, who has spent 16 years in the village running an air conditioning company.

He said: "I came here first on Friday morning, I speak a little bit of Portuguese and was helping police knock on the doors of all the apartments.

'Emotionally shattered'

"Then people just started coming out of the woodwork saying: 'Look, we've heard. What can we do to help?'."

"We have been looking in the bins, we've been looking on the pathways, we were trying to take the route that nannies would have followed to the beach because a little one might go the way she had gone before."

Mr Shelton adds that there were fewer volunteers on Saturday because it is a usually marks a handover as tourists leave the resort and new ones arrive.

Paul and Susan Moyes, 58, from Middlewich, Cheshire, stayed out until the early hours of Friday morning.

"I felt quite shattered, to be quite frank," Mr Moyes said. "The people were themselves extremely sad and it was quite sad for everybody.

"We were quite emotionally shattered, seeing the family that distressed."




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