MADELEINE McCann cops have left behind two-foot deep holes following their dig at a camp near the Arade dam.
Cops had been conducting a search for evidence of the missing girl with the prime suspect Christian B referring to the area around Portugal‘s Arade Dam as his “little paradise”.
Portuguese and German officers pack up as the search ended this afternoon[/caption]
Officers removed samples for lab tests in Germany[/caption]
Police focused their hunt on a peninsula at the Arade Dam in Portugal[/caption]
Search teams combed the beauty spot for three days[/caption]
The operation has involved police from Portugal and Germany[/caption]
Huge piles of soil were left next to the concentrated digging area which police have now left.
The surrounding woodland showed pathways had been cut by heavy machinery, leading to the main flattened 160 square foot excavation area.
Broken rocks were also scattered around the site in Portugal, after pickaxes were seen used by personnel over the course of three days.
Search teams also appeared to have been directed to a second smaller abandoned hippie haven 50 yards from the main camp site.
The remains of a fridge and plastic bottles were strewn around a dense thicket which appeared to have been cleared by machinery.
And more bore holes in the ground appeared to have been made by officers tasked with collecting soil samples.
As the operation drew to a close at 4pm local time, German officers were seen waving to Portuguese counterparts as they left the site in people carriers and pickup trucks.
The search could yet yield vital clues, as samples were taken away along with soil which will be forensically analysed in Germany.
Experts said tell-tale traces could link Madeleine to Christian B – who is feared to have taken her to the reservoir after snatching her in 2007.
But it may take weeks – or even months – of painstaking lab work to unearth a killer clue.
Police sources in Portugal have discounted previous claims that cops were searching for a camcorder and a gun tossed into waters beside the Arade dam.
The claim was based on reports that witnesses Manfred Seyferth and Helge Busching, who claim they found a weapon and a camera at the isolated house in Floral where Christian B lived after breaking in.
Footage on the video camera was said to show Christian B torturing and raping an American woman – and police hoped it may hold Madeleine clues.
But a source in Portugal said last night: “It’s true that it was alleged these items were thrown into a dam – but that dam was the Santa Clara a Velha dam about 30 miles away.”
Madeleine McCann went missing in May 2007[/caption]
The search is claimed to have been prompted by a tip-off to cops[/caption]
White tents pictured at the secluded site[/caption]
By lunchtime teams began pulling down white tents which appeared in the search area on Monday.
Vehicles were also seen being packed up with equipment as officers prepared to leave – including Germans facing a long drive home in convoy across Europe.
Head of Portuguese Madeleine investigation Helena Monteiro was also seen leaving, along with a sniffer dog team and machinery used to clear undergrowth.
When the police cordon was lifted at 4.30pm yesterday, the search area was revealed to have focussed on a small area of scrubland measuring no more than 160 square feet.
Police teams had methodically chopped down trees and hacked away undergrowth to expose an area yards from where the drought-hit lake’s shore line.
There appeared to be the remains of a camp at the spot with broken furniture, a torn ship’s buoy and even what appeared to be a makeshift toilet fashioned from a chair.
The suspected crime scene showed signs that police had been fully focussed on it for the past three days.
Ground levels appeared to have been lowered in a square area which was pock-marked with a bizarre moonscape of at least eight holes measuring two-three feet in depth.
Experts speculated that the holes could have been to remove soil samples for analysis – but could also have been used by officers using ground penetrating radar.
A source at the scene said: “It seems clear that the teams were directed to this spot by information received.
“It was obvious from the afternoon of day two that police were looking very closely at one specific area.
“Around six officers raked over and took samples from the same spot early on Friday and the damage to the sight shows their determination.”
Exclusive Sun drone footage and still images obtained after no-fly zone restrictions were lifted showed work being stepped up in the frantic final hours of the search.
Teams in overalls and rubber gloves were directed by a senior German officer and a photographer logging snaps of key clues.
A core team of around six searchers returned to a narrow strip of scrubland which appeared to have first been identified as an “area of interest” yesterday.
They appeared to be homing in on a spot where vital evidence or even a body may have been dumped.
Police have been spotted removing what appeared to be large brown evidence bags from the search site at Arade Dam, 31 miles from where Madeleine was taken in Praia da Luz.
However, they have not revealed any information about what was found.
Activity was stepped up as Portuguese sources claimed an informant who knew Christian B gave cops a tip-off – and claimed he had been to the spot days AFTER Maddie vanished.
The tip-off – plus geolocation clues found in the convicted rapist and paedophile’s vile stash of 8,000 of videos and images – is understood to have sparked the search.
“Concrete” information from the former friend of the fiend is understood to have led dozens of officers to the remote site.
German, Portuguese and British police extended the hunt into a third day at the dam site near Silves in the hope of a fresh breakthrough.
Cops are understood to think it could be where Christian B may have tossed Maddie’s body or vital evidence into the water.
On the evening of day two teams clearly focused on a small patch of ground shrouded by trees and shrubs around 20 yards from the water line.
They returned early today working methodically at the spot with picks, shovels, rakes and trowels and appeared to be logging, photographing and measuring samples.
Our drone showed them clearly sifting earth for clues as soil samples were removed for closer inspection.
Soil was taken away in wheelbarrows as sources revealed it would be ferried back to Germany for weeks – or even months – of painstaking forensic analysis.
The ground would have been virtually at the water’s edge in May 2007 when the drought-hit reservoir was at normal levels.
And the level of focus shown suggested the team were acting on information directing them to a likely spot.
The search later widened to a hillside and the exposed reservoir bed where at least 20 cops with digging tools and equipment formed a line to comb the ground.
But by lunchtime, word spread that the hunt was being wound up and cops and helpers were seen dismantling white tents and moving equipment away from the site.
And shortly before the search broke for lunch, a tracked remote-controlled rotavator which had been used to clear ground was seen being ferried away from the site.
Portuguese “Forest Sappers” were yesterday drafted in to help scour nearby woodland at the site 45 minutes from the Praia da Luz holiday apartment where Madeleine was snatched in May 2007.
The sappers – who usually specialise in clearing scrubland to prevent forest fires – used rotavator-style machine to power through dense undergrowth.
It is understood search crews were asked to look for cloth and fibres – amid claims traces of Madeleine’s pink pyjamas were being sought.
German cops probing Christian B believe he may have taken Madeleine to the beauty spot after snatching her as her parents Kate and Gerry dined out.
And they remain convinced the convicted rapist and paedophile raped and killed her before dumping her body.
Christian B, 45, is currently in jail for the 2005 rape of an American pensioner in Praia da Luz, just yards from the McCanns’ apartment.
He also faces a string of other sex charges.
German police believe he killed Madeleine — but three years after announcing him as a suspect are no nearer to bringing charges.
His lawyer Freidrich Fulscher has insisted he had no involvement in the McCann case and is attempting to have it thrown out.
Cops shifted their focus to a specific spot at the desolate site today[/caption]
Parents Kate and Gerry McCann holding up pyjamas similar to the ones Maddie was wearing the night she vanished[/caption]