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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 04:55 GMT 05:55 UK
Madeleine parents 'stay positive'
Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann has been missing since Thursday

The parents of Madeleine McCann say they still hope for her safe return, six days after she went missing from a Portugal holiday complex.

In a statement, Kate and Gerry McCann said they were focusing their efforts and emotions on finding her.

Other family members have spoken out against criticism of the police made in the Portuguese and British media.

Three-year-old Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, disappeared from an apartment in Praia da Luz six days ago.

The parents' statement, read out by Alex Woolfall, spokesman for the operator of the resort where the family were staying, said: "We are grateful to all of those currently taking part in the search for our daughter Madeleine.

"At present, we are channelling all of our emotions and all of our efforts into the steps that are being taken to secure Madeleine's safe return."

MADELEINE APPEAL
Madeleine's family have created a poster appealing for people with information to call Crimestoppers
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Police have also been handed CCTV footage showing a woman with a girl fitting Madeleine's description at a service station just a few miles from where she was abducted.

The woman was said to be urging the girl to say "thank you" to staff, but the youngster had appeared reluctant.

British child-abduction experts have flown to Portugal to join in the hunt.

'Very distraught'

Madeleine's grandparents, Brian and Susan Healy, have spoken of the strain that her parents are under.

Ribbons and messages of support in Rothley

Mrs Healy told Sky News that the couple, who are Catholic, were drawing strength from each other, prayers, support, sympathy and kindness.

"They can pull it together when they have to, but obviously there are times when they are very distraught," she said.

Mrs Healy added that the inexperience of the Portuguese police possibly led to mistakes initially, but debating what went wrong "doesn't achieve anything".

"We just have to move on and just pray that because of the publicity, for which we're grateful, somebody will come forward."

The Anglican church in Praia da Luz held a prayer vigil for Madeleine.

We all have deep fears and absolute hope
Fthr Haynes Hubbard
Praia da Luz

Its vicar, Father Haynes Hubbard, said he did not know whether Madeleine's parents would attend but they were aware of the service and were grateful for the desire of people there to remember Madeleine in their prayers.

"We all have deep fears and absolute hope," he said.

The BBC's Alix Kroeger said police in Portugal had released no new information about their inquires, but false alarms and speculation was rife.

Among rumours, one claimed an abandoned car was undergoing forensic testing, and another was that CCTV footage from a petrol station was being examined by police.

But none had proved accurate so far, said our correspondent.

Madeleine is believed to have been taken from her bed last Thursday evening while her parents were eating at a nearby restaurant.

They had been regularly checking on her and their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, before she went missing.

Mr Healy said that people who criticised the parents for leaving the children are "misguided and have got it wrong".

Their comments came after the British ambassador to Portugal, John Buck, defended the police search.

He said he had been assured by Portuguese authorities that "everything possible" was being done to ensure the girl's safe return.

Reward poster for Madeleine McCann
Police have faced criticism over their handling of the case

On Tuesday, Portuguese officers said they had quizzed 100 people and searched 500 apartments.

Portuguese police have also rejected local media claims that more effort has been put in than would have been made for a Portuguese child.

A Downing Street spokesman said these were difficult days for the family and for those trying to lead the investigation, and said help was being given wherever possible.

Mark Warner Holidays, operator of the resort, said it has received more than 400 messages of support for the McCanns from 20 countries.

An online appeal to help find Madeleine has also been set up.

The appeal, created by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and the Virtual Global Taskforce, is available in English, Portuguese and Spanish on www.ceop.gov.uk.

Crimestoppers have also set up an international number - +44 1883 731 336 - which people with information can call anonymously.

Map of Luz Ocean complex
The complex where Madeleine disappeared




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Portuguese police search for Madeleine



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