UK
06/05/2014 07:20 BST | Updated 06/05/2014 07:59 BST

Madeleine McCann News: Police Granted Permission To Start Digging In Portugal

Excavations are due to begin near the site where Madeleine McCann vanished from, it has been reported.

Scotland Yard has been given the approval to begin digging up sites, just days after the seventh anniversary of her disappearance.

Madeleine, who was then nearly four, went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal's Algarve on May 3 2007, as her parents dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.

madeleine mccann

Madeleine McCann has been missing since 2007

Detectives plan to excavate two sites near the Ocean Club apartments and a third site on a nearby beach, The Herald Scotland reports.

The decision to dig up the land is not believed to be related to any new evidence or information, but is simply part of a routine police review.

A friend of the McCanns told the paper they are not specifically looking for a body, but were hoping to rule out possible scenarios out as well as find new information.

Earlier this month it was revealed British detectives were poised to begin staging operations on Portuguese soil.

The Metropolitan Police Service continues to offer a reward of up to £20,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the person(s) responsible for the abduction.

There have been numerous reported sightings of Madeleine through the world. In 2007 photos of a blonde child being carried in a sling by a woman in Morocco prompted excited speculation she had been found.

girl

Bushra Binhisa - who was mistaken for Madeleine - with her parents and her family's registration certificate

It soon emerged the little girl - named Bushra Binhisa - was the daughter of an olive farmer of Berber extraction.

In 2013 a British woman spotted a youngster “bearing a remarkable likeness to Madeleine” at a market in the northern Indian town of Leh.

There have also been reported sightings in Portugal, Belgium and France, but none have produced any firm leads.

In February last year a DNA sample from a young girl in New Zealand who had been mistaken for the missing child was sent to Scotland Yard.

It was later confirmed the voluntarily provided sample did not provide a match.

Photo galleryMadeleine McCann See Gallery