Police in Portugal have launched searches for Madeleine McCann’s body on the Algarve, Portuguese media reports claim.

The searches are said to have taken place in Wells, Vila do Bispo, a 20-minute drive west of Praia da Luz, where the three-year-old disappeared in May 2007.

Detectives have discovered ‘fundamental evidence’ to be able to prove that suspect Christian Brueckner, 43, is responsible for her disappearance, state broadcaster RTP alleges.

Officers were purportedly ‘on standby’ to search Wells, as well as other areas suggested by German prosecutors that could be burial sites, once they were given extra information.

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Firefighters have also been called to help with the search for a ‘body’, reports claim.

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RTP also alleges the convicted paedophile has been linked to another missing persons’ case in the Algarve resort of Silves, though no further details have been given.

More information is reportedly expected to be revealed later. It is not yet known how credible these claims are.

Brueckner’s lawyer Friedrich Fulscher said in June he ‘denies any involvement’ in Madeleine’s disappearance.

There was no immediate official response from Portuguese police on the broadcaster’s claims.

Brueckner is currently serving a prison sentence for an unrelated sex crime.

He was convicted in December of raping an American woman, 72, in Portugal in September 2005, but is appealing the verdict on the grounds that his extradition from Italy was illegal.

The suspect has multiple other convictions across Europe, including for sex offences against children, drug offences, theft and forgery.

It comes after prosecutors in Germany reportedly wrote to Madeleine’s parents to tell them their daughter is dead in June.

Speaking to German media back in June, German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolter said: ‘This is a murder case not a missing persons case. 

‘We have been quite clear throughout that we are investigating a murder and have evidence for that. 

‘We can understand the pain of the parents and they want relief, but it is better for them that we have a clear and successful conclusion to the case. 

‘There is no realistic hope she is alive. Of course, I understand the parents want to believe she is until they see a body.’

Additional reporting by Natalia Penza.

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