Madeleine McCann cops spend 12 hours searching disused wells over fears Christian B dumped her body in one

POLICE hunting for the body of Madeleine McCann have spent 12 hours searching three deep, remote wells — amid fears suspect Christian B dumped her in one.

They are less than five miles from the apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz where she was snatched aged three in 2007.

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And sources yesterday said the hunt may now be widened to other abandoned wells nearby.

A 15-strong team of Portuguese police, firefighters and divers arrived in the village of Budens, about 4½ miles west of Praia da Luz on Thursday, locals said.

They worked all day, erecting gantries above the brick and concrete well shafts before divers equipped with underwater lights were lowered into the murky water.

They were believed to have been acting on a tip off, possibly from German investigators, that Christian's VW van was known to have been in the area.

The spot is a nine-minute drive from Praia da Luz — and three minutes from the Boca do Rio beach where German “hippie types” like Christian regularly parked up in camper vans.

It is believed Thursday’s hunt at the wells, which are within 100 metres of each other, did not turn up any important evidence.

But the area’s dense scrubland is pocked with dozens more, which are yet to be searched.

Portuguese TV reported there was “fundamental evidence” which led police to search the area and speculated that Christian may have had an accomplice.

It was also reported that a beach seen in the foreground of a known photograph of Christian's camper van is close to the wells.

'EXTREMELY DANGEROUS'

Christian's van is also known to have been photographed on the beach at Praia do Barranco, 40 minutes west of Praia da Luz.

Farmer Mario Lucas, 60, who has a smallholding next to the search site said yesterday: “There are many wells like that here.

“The three they looked at were probably 100 years old and used for generations to draw water for farmers’ crops.



“They spent the whole day there and I saw a diver being lowered into the water. But they didn’t take a look at the well on my land a few metres away.

“That makes me think they might have had information about exactly where to look.”

Mr Lucas said the 50ft deep wells, which have no protective covers, were extremely dangerous.

He added: “If you fall in one of those you never get out — no ­matter how good a swimmer you are, you’re gone forever.

“It happened to a local drunk not so long ago and he died.

“I heard about the Madeleine story like everyone else and feel very sad for her and her family.

“It would be awful if her story ended in a place like this.”

If you fall in one of those you never get out — no ­matter how good a swimmer you are.

Locals complained that the area had for years been a dumping ground for “degenerate” young ­people from Germany and the UK who live on the beaches.

But no one in the area could yesterday recall or identify Christian, now 43.

He was named as the prime suspect in the McCann case by German police last month.

Sources suggested new leads pointing them towards the wells may have emerged from pictures showing his distinctive white and yellow VW Westfalia camper van parked in the area.


Locals had stopped using all three of the Budens wells years before Madeleine was abducted while on holiday in Praia da Luz with parents Kate and Gerry.

It was unclear last night whether Portuguese police are searching other sites nearby.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT

But time is running out as German, British and Algarve police battle to find enough evidence to charge convicted child sex offender, rapist and drug dealer Christian with Madeleine’s abduction.

He is currently serving time in a German jail for drug offences — while appealing against his conviction in December for raping a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz, two years before Madeleine vanished.

If that appeal is successful and the rape conviction is overturned, he could be freed as early as Wednesday because he is eligible for parole on his drug sentence.

Last week it emerged Christian had been arrested on the Algarve in 2017 for allegedly exposing himself to children in a playground a short drive from Praia da Luz.

He was on the run from German authorities at the time and was never charged over the incident in San Bartolomeu de Messines because inquiries were mothballed.

Christian denies being involved in Madeleine’s disappearance.

But German prosecutors say they have clear evidence Madeleine is dead and are conducting their case as a murder inquiry.

Scotland Yard says it remains a missing person probe.

The Sun revealed last month that new ground searches were planned by Portuguese police after Christian was named.

But the focus then was on two homes close to Praia da Luz where Christian had lived during his time on the Algarve.

Scrubland was earmarked near a hillside home in the shadow of Black Rock peak — above a beach where Madeleine played on the family’s holiday.

Land around a single-storey former farmhouse plot — where Christian lived with a German girlfriend between 1999 and 2006 — is also littered with deep, abandoned well shafts.

In June 2014, Scotland Yard detectives backed by a team of cadaver dogs excavated scrubland around 300 yards from the building but unearthed no clues.

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