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Madeleine McCann’s parents could face ‘months’ waiting for DNA and forensic results from materials recovered from an intense a three-day search for clues about their missing daughter by detectives in Portugal.

Huge piles of soil and broken rock were left next to 160sqft area close to the banks of the Barragem do Arade reservoir where officers had scoured the location in search of new evidence.

Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha reported that a ‘relevant clue’ had been unearthed during the operation on Thursday (May 25) which led police to focus their efforts in a particular area.

Police confirmed the search concluded on Thursday and said materials had been sent to Germany for testing. Conflicting reports have emerged on the timeline for any results from the tests, with some saying days, but the Telegraph reported it could take weeks or months.

German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said in a statement that as soon as any significant findings were made the information would be released. A large section of the Barragem do Arade was cordoned off on Tuesday morning, around 30 miles from where three-year-old Madeleine went missing in 2007.

The operation was carried out at the request of German investigators who believe their prime suspect, convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner, 45, kidnapped and murdered the youngster.

He is in prison in Germany for the rape of a woman in Praia da Luz in 2005, and is suspected of further rapes and child sexual abuse committed in the area between 2000 and 2017.

Mail Online reported had been looking for a gun and camcorder stolen from Brueckner’s house. Police were given the go-ahead to search the area after German prosecutors received “certain tips” about the case.

German authorities have not revealed what triggered the latest search operation, but the prosecutor for the city of Braunschweig, Christian Wolters, said they were acting on the basis of “certain tips”.

He told German public broadcaster NDR the new information had not come from the suspect and they did not have a confession or “any indication from the suspect of where it would make sense to search”.

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The Sun reported that investigators previously found photos and video of Brueckner at the reservoir. He has reportedly denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Madeleine was three when she vanished while on holiday with her parents in Praia da Luz, after they left her and her younger twin siblings asleep in their apartment while they went out to dinner with friends.

Portuguese lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia previously claimed that criminal contacts had told him that Madeleine’s body was in the reservoir, and in 2008 he raised funds for unsuccessful private searches of the water.

British officers from the Metropolitan Police were also present while the work was carried out in order to inform Madeleine’s parents of any developments.

Portuguese daily Expresso said that the first day ended with no significant results, and that police had collected some objects including fabrics and garments.

Madeleine’s disappearance has attracted enormous media attention since she vanished, and reporters are being kept at arm’s length around a mile away from where search activity is taking place.

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