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Madeleine hunt breakthrough as Crimewatch callers give the name of man seen carrying child at time she vanished

By Ellen Branagh

Madeleine McCann's parents are "absolutely delighted" with the overwhelming response to a fresh appeal for information about her disappearance, they have said.

In a statement, Kate and Gerry McCann said they are "genuinely hopeful" that one or more of the responses to Monday night's BBC Crimewatch appeal would lead to a major breakthrough in the investigation.

Police said they have received more than 730 calls and 212 emails in response to the appeal, and detectives are now working through them.

In a statement issued through their spokesman, Kate and Gerry McCann said: "We are absolutely delighted with the overwhelming public response to Crimewatch, which was broadcast last night.

"We are genuinely hopeful that one of more of these responses will lead to a major breakthrough in the investigation."

Earlier, Crimewatch editor Joe Mather described the response to the programme as "truly unprecedented", and said some callers had given the same name for a man spotted carrying a child towards the beach in Praia da Luz.

He said there were lots of calls from British people in the town around the time of Madeleine's disappearance. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "They received several names for the key 10pm sighting, the sighting of a man carrying a child towards the beach. Several different names but also several callers mentioned the same name for that man."

During Crimewatch, two new e-fits of a man were broadcast, while police said they had effectively ruled out a previous key sighting of a different man carrying a little girl. Viewers were shown two images of a dark-haired man, based on descriptions from two witnesses who were staying in Praia da Luz when the three-year-old went missing.

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said another caller gave a name of a man who was known to be in Portugal at the time of Madeleine's disappearance. Witnesses described the man in the new e-fits as white, aged between 20-40, with short brown hair, of medium build, medium height and clean-shaven

Officers now say that a man seen carrying a child by the McCanns' friend Jane Tanner was an innocent British holidaymaker. Mr Redwood said: "We are almost certain that the man seen by Jane Tanner is not Madeleine's abductor. It takes us through to a position at 10pm when we see another man who is walking towards the ocean, close by to the apartment, with a young child in his arms.

"This child is described as being about three to four years of age with blonde hair, possibly wearing pyjamas, and the man is a white man with dark hair."

BACKGROUND

Investigators are also trying to identify mysterious fair-haired men seen "lurking around" the McCanns' Praia da Luz apartment at the time of Madeleine's disappearance who could be Dutch or German. Two e-fits of the men have been released. One is of a man seen twice by the same witness near the flat where the McCanns were staying. He was 30 to 35, thin, with short hair, shaving spots on his face and was wearing a black leather jacket. Another witness saw a similar-looking man in the resort. Police are also looking at a spate of break-ins in the area, one of which happened in the same week a year before Madeleine went missing, where a man got into a flat where young children were sleeping.

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