British police open new probe into Madeleine McCann disappearance

British police open Madeleine McCann investigation 5:33

British police said Thursday that they are launching a new investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, who vanished as a toddler six years ago in Portugal — and they believe she may still be alive.

After reviewing their own files and material gathered by Portuguese police and private investigators, British police said they had identified 38 persons of interest, including 12 British nationals believed to be living in Portugal.

“The review has told me is that there is no clear, definitive proof that Madeleine McCann is dead,” Andy Redwood, detective chief inspector for Scotland Yard, said Thursday. “I still genuinely believe that there is a possibility that she is alive.”

Madeleine was 3 years old when she disappeared from her family’s vacation apartment in Praia da Luz in 2007 while her parents were eating dinner at a nearby restaurant. Her case attracted international attention.

Composite photos showing three-year-old Madeleine McCann, left, with a computer generated age progression image of the missing child as she might look now, right, issued Thursday July 4, 2013. British police say Thursday July 4, 2013 they have launched a full investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and want to trace 38 "persons of interest" in the case. Detectives say it's possible that Madeleine, who vanished from a Portuguese holiday resort six years ago, is still alive. Teri Blythe / Metropolitan Police via AP

Redwood was careful not to call the 38 people suspects. He said British police want to know what role, if any, they played in the disappearance.

He said that the next step will be to ask Portuguese authorities to gather more evidence.

“We, in consultation with our Portuguese colleagues, are absolutely committed to finding out what happened to Madeleine McCann,” he said.

Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, are working with police as they investigate.