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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 May 2007, 21:12 GMT 22:12 UK
Prayer service for missing girl
Kate McCann
Kate McCann thanked the local community for their support

The parents of the British girl feared abducted from a holiday apartment in Portugal have attended a church service to pray for her safe return.

Prayers were said at the Algarve resort where three-year-old Madeleine McCann from Leicestershire was seized.

Gerry McCann said the Catholic mass gave them "strength, courage and hope".

A group of 21 villagers, including children, spent 45 minutes saying the Rosary with the McCanns in the couple's holiday apartment on Sunday night.

'Continued hope'

Tourists and expatriates also attended an Anglican service at Praia da Luz, and prayers said at the church in the family's home village of Rothley.

Speaking after the mass on the Algarve, Mr McCann told reporters: "We continue to hope for the best possible outcome from this for us and for Madeleine."

Madeleine McCann
Portuguese police say they believe Madeleine is alive

A tearful Kate McCann said: "Gerry and I would just like to express our sincere gratitude and thanks to everybody, but particularly the local community here, who have offered so much support.

"We couldn't have asked for more. I just wanted to say thank you. Please continue to pray for Madeleine."

Portuguese police say they have a suspect and believe Madeleine is alive.

On Saturday evening, doctors Mr and Mrs McCann made a fresh appeal for information.

Open shutter

Their daughter who went missing on Thursday from their apartment at Mark Warner's Ocean Club while they were at a restaurant nearby.

The complex offers a creche service but the couple decided to leave Madeleine and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie sleeping in the apartment.

They had been taking turns to return to the block to check on their children.

Mrs McCann found the outside shutter and window to Madeleine's room had been opened and her daughter missing shortly before 2200 local time.

We all just stopped what we were doing
Bar owner James Wright

Mark Warner managing director David Hopkins said the McCanns had "done nothing that I'm sure many parents wouldn't have done".

He told the BBC: "Whilst keeping a very close eye on their children who are not far away, [they] go out and enjoy a meal on a holiday in a very, very safe environment."

A spokesman for the company said two holiday bookings at the resort had been cancelled and six had asked to go to another site.

But the majority of clients were undeterred, the spokesman added.

In the earlier appeal, Mr McCann said: "We have no further information regarding the investigation but appreciate the significant effort everyone is making on our behalf.

Reward poster for Madeleine McCann
Portuguese police are continuing the search for Madeleine McCann

"We would again like to appeal for any information, however small, that may lead to the safe return of Madeleine."

In the first official briefing on the case on Saturday, Guilhermino Encarnacao, director of the judicial police in the Faro region, said officers were working on the assumption Madeleine was being held between 3km and 5km (about two to three miles) from the resort.

He said police had taken about 30 calls from potential witnesses and have created an artist's impression of a suspect.

Friends and relatives attend the church service

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