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Parents praying distinctive mark will help find Maddy

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By Claire Weir and Jonathan McCambridge

Holidaymakers travelling across Europe were today urged to look into the distinctive eyes of little Madeleine McCann as her parents stepped up international efforts to find the abducted four-year-old.

Gerry and Kate McCann insisted today they believe their daughter is safe and well. Speaking in Portugal this morning, the couple insisted that until the family saw "concrete evidence to the contrary" they would remain convinced that the four-year-old was being looked after.

Photos of the youngster show her distinctive right eye where the pupil runs into the blue-green iris.

It is this distinguishing mark that her family hope will identify Madeleine to those on the look-out for her across Europe.

It is now 11 days since Madeleine was snatched from her bed in a holiday apartment in the Portuguese village of Praia da Luz.

Prayers have been said across Co Donegal for Madeleine, who visited the area just weeks before her disappearance in Portugal. And a photograph has been displayed in a church in Dungloe, where the youngster visited recently.

Mr and Mrs McCann said today they have no intention of returning to Britain from Portugal in the near future.

Despite their ordeal, the McCanns said today that they had drawn strength from the "spiritual outpouring" that they had received both in Portugal and around the world.

The couple were asked how long they expected to stay in Portugal, to which Mrs McCann replied: "I can't even consider going home at the moment, absolutely can't even let it enter my head."

Thanking those who have supported them, Mr McCann said: "We have taken tremendous strength from the warmth and the spiritual outpouring that we have received here and all around the world.

"That has given us great encouragement and hope that we will bring back Madeleine safely."

Lawyers travelled to Portugal at the weekend to assist the McCanns.

Today Mr McCann explained: "There have been multiple offers of different forms of help, including financial pledges of people wishing to help Madeleine."

He said the couple welcomed the offers but that they had created a problem in knowing where best to channel the resources.

He said: "We have brought in our lawyers to help us decide how best to use these offers of support to help us find Madeleine.

"Since the lawyers have come here we have visibly felt a burden being lifted from our shoulders because it is one less thing that we now have to immediately think about and how should we co-ordinate it.

"This has allowed us to concentrate more on our own physical and mental well-being."

Prayers were said for Madeleine yesterday as the reward for information leading to her safe return reached £2.6m.

Belfast Telegraph


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