DRONE footage reveals the frantic final hours of the search for Madeleine McCann clues as the hunt ends today.
Teams fine-tuned the focus of the hunt at a beauty spot prime suspect Christian B called his “little paradise” near Portugal‘s Arade Dam.
Police could end their search at the Arade Dam in Portugal[/caption]
Search teams have been combing the area for three days[/caption]
Insiders say cops were told they will no longer be needed after this afternoon[/caption]
The operation has involved police from Portugal and Germany[/caption]
The search is claimed to have been prompted by a tip-off to cops[/caption]
White tents pictured at the secluded site[/caption]
Madeleine McCann went missing in May 2007[/caption]
Their dragnet was due to be lifted at around 4pm today as German, Portuguese and British officers were seen packing up tents and equipment.
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 Maddie investigation Helena Monteiro was also seen leaving, along with dog team vans machinery used to clear undergrowth.
Exclusive Sun drone footage and still images obtained after no-fly zone restrictions were lifted showed work being stepping up in the 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 Maddie 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.
Cops shifted their focus to a specific spot at the desolate site today[/caption]
They were partially obscured by foliage but 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.
Parents Kate and Gerry McCann holding up pyjamas similar to the ones Maddie was wearing the night she vanished[/caption]