Police have combed the banks of a reservoir in Portugal with the help of sniffer dogs, rakes and pickaxes as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Emergency service divers were seen on a rigid-hull inflatable boat early on Tuesday morning at the Barragem do Arade – around 30 miles from Praia da Luz, where the three-year-old went missing in 2007.

Officers concentrated their search at one area of the reservoir – erecting white tents on a hill on the banks.

Further around the water, emergency services and officials from Portugal, Germany and the UK were seen holding briefings near blue police tents.

Bicester Advertiser:

It has been reported that the prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance, convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner, 45, spent time in the area between 2000 and 2017.

Brueckner, who has denied involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance, was first identified as a suspect by German investigators.

The new searches come as the Home Office granted an extra £110,000 in funding this financial year for the Metropolitan Police to assist with finding Madeleine, down from just over £300,000 last year.

The total funding given to Operation Grange has been just under £13.1 million since 2011.

Bicester Advertiser: Searches began on Tuesday as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, police in Portugal have confirmed.Searches began on Tuesday as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, police in Portugal have confirmed. (Image: PA)

This is the timeline of everything that has happened in the case so far.

Timeline of events since Madeleine McCann disappeared

2007

  • May 3: Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, leave their children asleep in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in southern Portugal while they dine with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant. Nothing is amiss when Mr McCann checks on the youngsters just after 9pm, but when his wife goes back at about 10pm she finds Madeleine missing. Jane Tanner, one of the friends dining with the McCanns, reports having seen a man carrying a child earlier that night.
  • May 14: Detectives take Anglo-Portuguese property developer Robert Murat in for questioning and make him an “arguido”, or formal suspect, but this is later withdrawn.
  • August 11: Exactly 100 days after Madeleine disappeared, investigating officers publicly acknowledge for the first time that she could be dead.
  • September 7: During questioning of Mr and Mrs McCann, detectives make them both “arguidos” in their daughter’s disappearance.
  • September 9: The McCanns fly back to England with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

2008

  • July 21: The Portuguese authorities shelve their investigation and lift the “arguido” status of the McCanns and Robert Murat.

2011

  • May 12: Mrs McCann publishes a book about her daughter’s disappearance, on Madeleine’s eighth birthday. Scotland Yard launches a review of the case after a request from Home Secretary Theresa May, supported by then-prime minister David Cameron.

2012

  • April 25: Scotland Yard detectives say they believe Madeleine could still be alive, release an age-progression picture of how she might look as a nine-year-old, and call on the Portuguese authorities to reopen the case, but Portuguese police say they have found no new material.

2013

  • July 4: Scotland Yard confirms it has launched its own investigation, Operation Grange, into Madeleine’s disappearance two years into a review of the case. It has “genuinely new” lines of inquiry and has identified 38 people of interest, including 12 Britons.
  • October 24: Portuguese police confirm that a review of their original investigation has uncovered new lines of inquiry, and they reopen the case.

2014

  • January 29: British detectives fly to Portugal amid claims they are planning to make arrests.
  • June 3: Sniffer dogs and specialist teams are used to search an area of scrubland close to where Madeleine went missing.
  • December 12: Detectives begin questioning 11 people who it is thought may have information on the case.

2015

  • September 16: The Government discloses that the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine has cost more than £10 million.
  • October 28: Scotland Yard cuts the number of officers working on the inquiry from 29 to four.

2017

  • April 30: The McCanns prepare to mark 10 years since their daughter’s disappearance with a BBC interview in which they vow to do “whatever it takes for as long as it takes” to find her.

2019

  • May 3: Local media reports say Portuguese detectives are investigating a foreign paedophile as a suspect in the abduction of Madeleine.

2020

  • June 3: Police reveal that a 43-year-old German prisoner, later named as Christian Brueckner, has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.
  • June 4: Scotland Yard’s Operation Grange, which had received £12.3 million in funding up to April 2020, is still a missing person inquiry as detectives have no “definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead”.

2021

  • May 4: Kate and Gerry McCann post a statement on the official Find Madeleine campaign website saying they still cling to the hope of seeing their daughter again as they prepare to mark her 18th birthday on May 12.

2022

  • April 21: Christian Brueckner is made an “arguido”, a formal suspect, by Portuguese authorities.
  • May 3: The McCann family say it is “essential” they learn the truth of what happened to their daughter on the 15th anniversary of her disappearance.
  • October 11: Brueckner, now 45, is charged with three counts of rape and two charges of child sex abuse, unrelated to Madeleine’s disappearance.

2023

  • May 3: Kate and Gerry McCann mark the 16th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance by saying she is “still very much missed” and that they “await a breakthrough”.
  • May 22: An area near the Barragem do Arade reservoir, about 30 miles from Praia da Luz, is sealed off as police prepare to start searching on May 23.
  • May 23: Searches begin with police divers in the water, and teams including officers with sniffer dogs and rakes and metal poles seen working on the banks. Media and onlookers are kept a mile away from the main search area and a no fly zone is imposed over the water.