Jun. 2, 2014 8:13 AM EDT
By Helena Alves and Barry Hatton
Police prepare for search in Madeleine McCann case
This March 2007 photo released by the McCann family Friday May 4, 2007 shows three-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann who is reported missing during a family holiday in the Algarve region of Portugal. Kate McCann the mother of the British girl who disappeared four months ago in southern Portugal is to be named a formal suspect in the case Friday Sept. 7, 2007, a family spokesman said, a shocking twist to a case that has gripped much of Europe. (AP Photo/HO Family)
A Portuguese Republican Guard policeman stands guard by a cordoned-off area with other officers, background, in Praia da Luz, Lagos, southern Portugal, Monday, June 2, 2014. Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann cordoned off Monday an area of scrubland near where the British girl vanished seven years ago. Officers placed yellow-and-white police tape around the waste ground, which is mostly level and slightly larger than a soccer field, and were expected to conduct a forensic examination of the area in the coming days. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Kate and Gerry McCann pose with a missing poster of their daughter Madeleine as talk to the media in London Wednesday, May 2, 2012 to mark their daughter Madeleine's birthday and the 5th anniversary of their daughter disappearance during a family vacation in southern Portugal in May 2007 shortly before her fourth birthday. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Kate McCann, the mother of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 23 2009, at a hotel in Lisbon. Kate and her husband Gerry McCann returned to Portugal to hold talks with their lawyers. Madeleine was three years old when she disappeared from her holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal, while her parents were having dinner nearby on May 3 2007. (AP Photo/Joao Henriques)
ARCHIV: Die Bildkombo zeigt ein undatiertes Handout-Foto der vermissten vierjaehrigen Madeleine McCann (links), die am 03. Mai 2007 in Praia da Luz an der portugiesischen Algarve aus der Ferienwohnung ihrer Eltern verschwand und vermutlich entfuehrt wurde, und ein im Jahr 2009 von US-amerikanischen Phantomzeichnern erstelltes Bild, das zeigt, wie Madeleine, im Alter von sechs Jahren aussehen koennte. Die vermisste Madeleine McCann ist nach Aussage der Londoner Polizei moeglicherweise am Leben. Das Maedchen wird seit Mai 2007 vermisst. Sie verschwand wenige Tage vor ihrem vierten Geburtstag waehrend eines Urlaubs an der Algarve. Die Londoner Polizei teilte am Mittwoch (25.04.12) mit, ein neues Bild des Maedchens zu veroeffentlichen. Man stehe weiterhin in Kontakt mit den Eltern und fuehre die Ermittlungen fort, hiess es weiter. (zu dapd-Text) Foto: findmadeleine.com/dapd
Kate McCann, the mother of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, displays a poster of her daughter, at during a news conference held with her husband Gerry, in Rabat, Morocco Monday, June 11, 2007. Kate and Gerry McCann arrived in the North African kingdom on Sunday to look into claims that a man and young girl matching Madeleine's description were spotted in Marrakech six days after the child went missing. The poster reads: "Look into my eyes, Madeleine McCann has been abducted in Praia Da Luz, Portugal, on May 3, 2007. If you have any information please contact Crimestoppers UK...." (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
Gerry and Kate McCann, the parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, walk with their twins Sean, left, and Amelie outside their apartment in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal, Monday, May 28 2007. Four-year-old Madeleine disappeared May 3 from the resort apartment where she was on vacation with her family and the police believe she was abducted. Catholics Kate and Gerry McCann are hoping to meet the Pontiff this week as they embark on a series of trips around Europe.(AP Photo/Armando Franca)
A waiter hangs a picture of the missing 3-year-old girl Madeleine McCann on a restaurant's window Thursday, May 10 2007, in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal. The British girl disappeared Thursday night May 3 from the resort apartment where she was on vacation with her family and the police believe she was abducted. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Kate McCann, the mother of the missing 3-year-old girl Madeleine McCann, holds her daughter's toy outside their resort apartment Tuesday, May 8 2007, in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal. The British girl disappeared Thursday night from the resort apartment bedroom while her parents ate an evening meal at a nearby restaurant where she was on vacation with her family. Police believe she was abducted.(AP Photo/Armando Franca)
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PRAIA DA LUZ, Portugal (AP) - Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann on Monday cordoned off scrubland near the resort where the British girl vanished seven years ago.
Officers placed yellow-and-white police tape around the waste ground, which is larger than a soccer field and covered in bushes and some trees. They were expected to conduct a forensic examination of the area in coming days. Officials have previously said detectives may use excavators, dogs and ground-penetrating radar as they scrutinize the terrain. Police kept watch over the area from an adjacent low hill.
Officials made no immediate comment on Monday's developments. Cases that are under investigation in Portugal are covered by a judicial secrecy law, which forbids the release of information.
The scrubland is about 300 meters (330 yards) from the Praia da Luz resort in southern Portugal where Madeleine vanished from her family's vacation apartment in May 2007, shortly before her fourth birthday. The area was searched in the days following her disappearance.
Authorities in Portugal and Britain said recently they would conduct new searches in coming weeks after reviewing the case file and a new public appeal for information.
Portuguese police closed the case in 2008 because authorities had detected no crime. The public prosecutor's office in Lisbon last year reopened the investigation, saying new leads emerged during the case review though it did not elaborate.
British police launched Operation Grange in 2011 to try to find out what happened to Madeleine. British detectives have been sifting through the Portuguese case files and say they have identified new avenues of investigation. Among other things, they have compiled a record of cases involving sexual assaults on children in the area between 2004 and 2010.