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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Madeleine searches find nothing
Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann has now been missing for more than a month
Portuguese police say they have not found anything in a search of scrubland nine miles from where four-year-old Madeleine McCann went missing.

The search was carried out after a Dutch newspaper published details of an anonymous letter it received alleging Madeleine's body was under rocks.

Officers said the line of inquiry had now been "discarded".

Madeleine vanished from an apartment in Praia da Luz, Algarve, on 3 May while her parents were at a restaurant.

Remote tracks

The village of Arao, where the search took place, lies north of the main road from Praia da Luz to Faro.

A road which was cordoned off by police leads up to remote hillside tracks spanning across farmland and wooded areas.

Officers from a section of the police called GNR led sniffer dogs to the area they searched early on Friday.

The search was called off hours later and police said no more were planned.

Ch Insp Olegario Sousa, of Portuguese police, told the BBC: "The line of enquiry has now been discarded."

Details of the anonymous letter were published in De Telegraaf on Wednesday.

Portugal map

The Dutch newspaper received the letter and a map on Monday and passed it on to police, delaying publication of the information.

On Thursday Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate, of Rothley, Leicestershire, condemned the decision to publish the letter.

On his internet blog, Mr McCann said the letter and accompanying map should have been properly examined first.

He called the publication "irresponsible" and "cruel" journalism.

"We were extremely disappointed in the publication of the anonymous letter in De Telegraaf claiming to know where Madeleine is buried," he said.

"Although all information will be taken seriously, we were very upset that the credibility of this letter had not been examined and, more importantly, [it was] published before the Portuguese police had an opportunity to investigate the claim, and search the area if appropriate without massive media attention."

Dutch police were studying similarities between the new letter and one received last year by De Telegraaf pointing to the whereabouts of Belgian step-sisters Stacey Lemmens, seven, and Nathalie Mahy, 10.

The Belgian girls were murdered in June 2006 after they disappearing from Liege.

On the day the letter was received, police found their bodies close to a spot indicated on an enclosed map.

What police said about the latest search

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