Sniffer dogs join search for Madeleine McCann at Portuguese reservoir

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SILVES, Portugal, May 24 (Reuters) - Police deployed heavy equipment and sniffer dogs on Wednesday, the second day of a search at a remote reservoir in Portugal for evidence linking a German suspect to the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann 16 years ago.

Emergency services brought in a remote-controlled tractor-mounted tree cutter to clear what appeared to be a new search area, a few hundred metres (yards) away from a temporary camp set up on Tuesday on the shores of the Arade reservoir by Portuguese police, assisted by German and British counterparts.

Dozens of officers focused their search on the reservoir's shoreline and a hill above, and it was unclear if they would use divers to search the water.

McCann was three years old in May 2007 when she vanished from her bedroom in the apartment her family were staying at in the Praia da Luz resort on the Algarve coast. The reservoir is about 50 km (30 miles) inland.

HOPES FOR CLOSURE

"I hope they will find something, so the parents can have peace," said Gert, 49-year-old Dane who lives in the same building from which McCann disappeared.

Other Praia da Luz residents and holidaymakers shared the hope Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, will have closure at last.

"Hopefully this time, unfortunately, they will find some remains, allowing the situation to close. Must be torture, 16 years of uncertainty," said 74-year-old Rodney from Manchester.

Citing a source close to the investigation, Portugal's Expresso newspaper said the German Federal Criminal Police Office acted on a tip-off from an informer, "whom German police consider very credible" and who provided them with details that the investigators "are taking very seriously".

Prosecutor Christian Wolters in Braunschweig, Germany, told broadcaster NDR the information did not come from the suspect and there was "no confession or anything similar", and police were not necessarily looking for McCann's remains at the Arade.

"We never said that the girl disappeared where we are now searching," he said.

CNN Portugal said the operation would continue at least for one more day on Thursday.

Portuguese police in charge of the search declined to comment.

German prosecutors last year named Christian Brueckner an official suspect in McCann's disappearance. The convicted child abuser and drug dealer is behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same area of the Algarve region from where McCann went missing.

He has denied any involvement in the disappearance.

The McCann case remains a mystery as no body has ever been found. It sparked a media frenzy in Britain, with developments also followed by outlets around the world, with celebrities joining appeals to help find Madeleine.

Reporting by Mariano Valladolid; writing by Charlie Devereux; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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