The hunt for Madeleine McCann begins in the no-fly zone ‘after shock footage led police’ to suspect Christian B.’s ‘lake of paradise’

Police closed off a remote reservoir this morning as they prepare to search the area as part of the first major search for Madeleine McCann in nine years.

A no-fly zone was set up overnight, covering the entire deserted site 45 minutes from Praia da Luz, where Maddie disappeared in 2007 and which prime suspect Christian B called his “little paradise”.

Madeleine McCann disappeared while on vacation with her family in 2007


Madeleine McCann disappeared while on vacation with her family in 2007Photo credit: PressAssociation
Christian B is the prime suspect in Madeleine's disappearance


Christian B is the prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearancePhoto credit: BILD
Police tents have been erected at the Arade Dam near Silves


Police tents have been erected at the Arade Dam near SilvesPhoto credit: SOLARPIX
The search is the first of its kind in Portugal since 2014


The search is the first of its kind in Portugal since 2014Photo credit: Solarpix

This means that the airspace over water and land that today’s search is focused on is only accessible to police drones.

And the roads leading to the artificial Arade dam were closed yesterday.

A ring of steel around the site means journalists and curious onlookers stay more than a mile from where two white tents have been pitched.

Sources close to the investigation said they had evidence that the clearing in the trees was where Christian B. stayed after he parked his RV nearby.

A local, who asked not to be named but knows the area well, said: “It’s pretty well hidden by the trees and you don’t realize it until you’re almost there.

“Sometimes there is wild camping there, which is why you can find remains of fires in small stone walls.

“There are old sun loungers and makeshift benches for visitors to rest on.

“It’s very remote and very peaceful, but at the same time it has a slightly spooky feel to it.”

Local Portuguese reports, partially confirmed by police sources, said the searches were requested and approved after German police received videos and photos of Christian B. at the proposed excavation site.

They are believed to have been found buried in the pedophile’s “secret lair” at a derelict factory site in the German village of Neuwegersleben, 65 miles southeast of Hanover.

Police searched the site in February 2016 looking for the body of missing five-year-old Inga Gehricke, who disappeared on a family day out in Saxony-Anhalt in May 2015 and has been dubbed the “German Maddie”.

At the time, it was said that German investigators had discovered more than 8,000 images and videos full of child abuse images on USB sticks and hard drives.

They are said to have been buried under the body of Christian B.’s dead dog.

The area searched today is about 30 miles from the Ocean Club apartment from which the three-year-old disappeared while on vacation with her parents Kate and Gerry.

Accessible only by dirt road, Arade Dam has previously been linked to the Maddie case and was raided in 2008.

It was where she was spotted days after she disappeared, a woman handing a mysterious man a child that matched her description.


A well-informed police source said: “Policia Judiciaria officers will be divided into four teams that will focus on a land search.” It will be very thorough and exhaustive.

“Forget the idea of ​​big trucks and big machines. Much of the work done here today is done by hand using backup technology.”

The insider said there was no plan to bring sniffer dogs today and didn’t comment on local reports that boats with sonar equipment were combing certain sections of the water.

High-tech equipment is expected to be used to locate human remains buried underground and, if necessary, underwater.

No heavy machinery was brought into the area yesterday and community officials were seen carrying a “truckload” of wheelbarrows into the area adjacent to the hidden recreation area clearing, suggesting police were hand-raking and digging them up with pickaxes instead of digging up the earth with excavators to secure any evidence found.

The Portuguese Policia Judiciaria, whose officers are conducting most of the excavation work today, has confirmed that the searches were ordered by their German counterparts, the BKA.

The request was made via an international letter of request sent to the Portuguese Attorney General’s Office and forwarded to the prosecutors in Portimao.

Portuguese officials have not yet said when they were received, but are believed to have been received around two months ago.

Although this week’s operation was initiated by the German police, the Portuguese detectives, with their manpower and logistical support, are showing that they are fully involved.

Carlos Farinha, deputy director of the PFY, traveled from Lisbon to the reservoir yesterday to see the preparatory work before the raids begin and to meet German colleagues.

He is believed to have attended an information briefing with German police, who arrived at the scene around 6.30pm local time in four vehicles, including three VW MPVs, and left two hours later.

Today Algarve PJ chief Fernando Jordao, who is normally based in Faro, and Helena Monteiro, charged with the ongoing review of a Portuguese police ‘cold case’ from the northern city of Porto, will spend time in the search area to try again to show the importance they are attached to this week’s operation by the top management of the Portuguese Armed Forces.

Operational coordination is in the hands of a chief inspector who has not yet been appointed.

Scotland Yard officials will be on site for a so-called “observation session”.

The search should last at least two days and more if something relevant is found.

Police officers are combing the coast as they prepare to search


Police officers are combing the coast as they prepare to searchPhoto credit: SOLARPIX
Police are searching a remote reservoir in the Algarve


Police are searching a remote reservoir in the AlgarvePhoto credit: Solarpix

Although divers are expected to participate in an underwater search, local reports estimate that around “80 percent” of searches will be land searches and the rest underwater searches.

The reservoir was twice searched by divers in February and March 2008 on behalf of a Portuguese lawyer.

Marcos Aragao Correia organized the privately funded operation after claiming he had received an “underworld” tip.

He claimed he had been informed by underworld contacts that Madeleine had been murdered within 48 hours of her disappearance and her body dumped in the reservoir.

The second search found two bags of small bones, after divers previously recovered several lengths of string, some plastic tie and a single white cotton sock.

Portuguese police were alerted after the discovery, but ruled out the possibility that the bones were human due to their size.

Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann had previously dismissed Mr Correia as a self-promoter, saying there was no evidence their daughter was linked to the reservoir.

It is understood that no search has taken place since March 2008 as part of the ongoing investigation into her disappearance.

German police have been investigating Christian B for a long time. Despite slow progress, they announced last month that “nothing has changed”.

Christian B’s lawyers were defiant and long maintained his innocence.

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It is known that the sex offender was living near Praia da Luz and was engaged in petty crime, such as theft from hotel rooms, when Maddie disappeared.

Kate and Gerry are expected to be kept up to date with any developments regarding the new search by Scotland Yard’s liaison officers.


PaulLeBlanc is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. PaulLeBlanc joined Dailynationtoday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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