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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 May 2007, 00:08 GMT 01:08 UK
Money pours in to Madeleine fund
Fundraiser for Madeleine McCann
Madeleine's Fund is expected to swell as cheques clear

Money has begun to pour in to a fighting fund set up to help find missing Madeleine McCann.

The four-year-old's great-uncle, Brian Kennedy, said the sum contributed is expected to be "very considerable".

The campaign to trace Madeleine will also see footage of her screened at the FA Cup Final on Saturday.

Meanwhile, police in Portugal - where Madeleine vanished - confirmed their only suspect had phone contact with a key witness the night she disappeared.

'Tip of the iceberg'

Bankers handling donations for Madeleine's Fund, set up by her family, revealed it had quickly reached five figures after it was launched on Wednesday.

The amount raised currently stands at 73,505 - which includes 50,000 from Portsmouth Football Club - but this does not include money collected by banks and building societies and cheques yet to clear.

Madeleine's great-uncle Brian Kennedy, said: "It's the tip of the iceberg. The figure I have heard likely to be contributed is very considerable."

NatWest's David Brinsford said: "As yet funds taken in over the counters of NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland have not hit the account and will swell the balance further when they start to filter through next week."

A DVD entitled Find Madeleine will be shown at the match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium, the FA said.

Find Madeleine website
The website has attracted thousands of messages of support

The film, made by the campaign to raise awareness of Madeleine's disappearance in the Algarve on 3 May, has already been shown at the Uefa Cup final.

The FA said the film, which is to be shown before kick-off and at half-time, could potentially be seen by a television audience of 450 million people in 160 countries.

Stars from the world of football, cricket and rugby have rallied around attempts to find Madeleine, who was taken from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz.

Producers of a website set up to find the four year old from Rothley, Leicestershire, say it has received more than 58m hits.

'Deep faith'

Father Paul Seddon, who married Mr and Mrs McCann eight years ago and baptised Madeleine, spoke to reporters in Portugal. He flew out to be with the family last week.

He said: "Kate has a very deep-rooted faith and she turned immediately to God for hope and strength.

"Gerry has found his own faith renewed through the incredible love he and Kate and the twins have received from everyone.

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann disappeared on 3 May

"He has told me he has experienced something in the church which set him on his way. "He spoke to me about feeling like he was in a tunnel but not at the far end where light seems far away."

Multinational companies are supporting the efforts to spread Madeleine's image across Europe.

BP, Shell, Esso, Texaco and Total have agreed to distribute appeal posters at their petrol stations.

Other backers of the Find Madeleine campaign include supermarket chain Carrefour, McDonalds, Carphone Warehouse, Budget car rental, British Airways and BAA, which is displaying posters at all of its UK airports.

There is also a mobile phone text campaign run by Vodafone, O2 and Telefonica.

Royal Bank of Scotland is overseeing cash collections and Spain's Banco Santander and France's Credit Agricole and La Poste are distributing posters.

Coach operator National Express said posters of Madeleine produced by the UK's National Missing Persons Helpline would be placed in bus stations in 27 countries served by its Eurolines network.

Police inquiry

The website, meanwhile, has received more than 16,000 messages of support since its launch on Wednesday.

Portuguese police said they had received information about a number of possible sightings of Madeleine, but that nothing had come of them.

Ch Insp Olegario de Sousa said police did not have the evidence to arrest the only formal suspect, Briton Robert Murat, 33, who denies any involvement.

Officers are looking into alleged inconsistencies in an account given by a key witness.

A Russian man, Sergey Malinka, reportedly told detectives that he and Mr Murat had not spoken for a year.

But police sources have now confirmed to the BBC that the men had telephone contact on the night the four-year-old disappeared.

A Leicestershire police spokeswoman also confirmed that a Portuguese detective inspector had visited the English force's incident room to speak to officers.

Portuguese English-language newspaper The Resident has reported that police have failed to check surveillance cameras along the Algarve's 80-mile A22 motorway.

Rewards of 2.5m have been offered to anyone with information leading to the four-year-old's safe return.

Details of how to donate to the Madeleine's Fund - at banks, by post or via the internet - can be found at www.findmadeleine.com.




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