Video: Break in the Madeleine McCann case?

updated 6/14/2007 7:33:47 PM ET 2007-06-14T23:33:47

The parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann rebuked the media Thursday for publishing details of an anonymous tip about what might have happened to their daughter.

Police investigating the British girl’s May 3 disappearance from a Portuguese hotel said they were checking the tip, which appeared in a Dutch newspaper Wednesday and was widely reported.

The paper said it had given police an anonymous letter it received with a map showing a remote location in southern Portugal where Madeleine might be buried.

The girl’s father, Gerry McCann, said in a blog on his Web site that the family was “extremely disappointed” by the revelation.

“Although all information will be taken seriously, we were very upset that the credibility of this letter had not been examined and, more importantly, published before the Portuguese police had an opportunity to investigate the claim, and search the area if appropriate without massive media attention,” he wrote.

“We feel strongly that this was an irresponsible piece of journalism and even if it were true, is insensitive and cruel. One can imagine how upsetting it is for Kate and I to hear of such claims through the media and if every piece of information was published like this there would be nothing else in the newspapers.”

Dozens of leads
The location marked on the map is remote scrubland about nine miles from where the girl vanished while on vacation with her family.

Police had said they may use dogs to search the area. No police were seen in the general area, local media reported.

Authorities say they have followed up dozens of leads, including reports of sightings of Madeleine by the public, but none has yielded results.

Madeleine disappeared from a hotel in Praia da Luz, a resort town in Portugal’s Algarve region. Her parents left her and her 2-year-old twin siblings alone in their hotel room while they dined at a nearby restaurant.

The couple has launched an international campaign to find the girl, enlisting celebrities such as soccer star David Beckham and J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series.

The McCanns have traveled to Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Morocco to plead for help in the search. They fear Madeleine may have been taken out of Portugal but say they have no plans to return to Britain without her. They also visited the Vatican, where Pope Benedict XVI blessed them and a photograph of Madeleine.

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