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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 09:33 GMT
McCann detectives aid girl search
Madeleine McCann pictured at Christmas 2006
Madeleine has been missing for eight months
Private detectives hired by the parents of Madeleine McCann are investigating the disappearance of a five-year-old Spanish girl.

Mari Luz Cortes went missing on Sunday from Huelva in Spain, 120 miles from where Madeleine was last seen.

The McCann investigators are in touch with the missing girl's parents and Spanish police.

But no firm link is being suggested with Madeleine's disappearance from Praia da Luz in May last year.

Mari Luz Cortes has not been seen since she left her home to buy a packet of crisps in the Spanish border town on Sunday afternoon.

'Thoughts and prayers'

Officers have been scouring the area for the girl, and Portuguese police have also been carrying out searches on their side of the border.

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the family's investigators had been in touch with the Spanish police to establish whether there are any links between the cases.

"Kate and Gerry are aware of her disappearance," he said.

"They are highly concerned to hear that another young girl has gone missing in the region. Their thoughts and prayers are with the Cortes family."

In August last year the McCanns travelled to Huelva - approximately a two-hour drive from Praia da Luz - to raise awareness in the region about their daughter's disappearance.

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