SENSATIONAL new evidence has been unearthed in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann, it was revealed last night.
Forensic experts are examining at least six vital fresh clues which police believe will provide a significant breakthrough in the investigation.
The fresh evidence, which is being examined for DNA, has been gathered from vehicles seized by the police and a beach.
Among the 10 vehicles forensically examined was one driven by the McCanns and another by Robert Murat, who remains the only official suspect in the case.
Portuguese detectives, who are waiting on the results, are confident they will provide the vital link needed to make an arrest.
News of the development comes as the investigation into the disappearance of the four-year-old continues to gather momentum following weeks of frustration for the family and police.
In the next hours one of the keys of the case will become clear
Portugalís top policeman Alipio Ribeiro
Senior detectives on the Algarve are now working on the theory that Madeleine died on the night she disappeared and was not kidnapped as first thought.
It has also been reported that Portuguese police believe they know the identity of the killer or killers and are now simply building the case against them.
The resuls of the DNA tests could be all detectives need to swoop on the suspects.
Portugalís top policeman Alipio Ribeiro has even said his officers are just hours from solving the disappearance.
In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, he said: "In the next hours one of the keys of the case will become clear."
The breakthrough came after a British police team using specially trained sniffer dogs travelled to the Portugal to re-examine the apartment from where Madeleine went missing on May 3.
The dogs discovered two tiny specks of blood, which had been missed during an earlier examination of the property.
These samples were sent off to the Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham to check if they were a match for Madeleineís DNA.
But it has now emerged that in addition to the blood traces, detectives also found six other pieces of evidence, which have been described as extremely significant.
It is also understood that forensics officers are examining a small amount of evidence collected from a beach near to Praia da Luz, leading to speculation that the little girl could have been killed and her body dumped in the sea.
While police sources have refused to divulge details of what the new clues are, they have revealed that they are crucial to the overall investigation.
Police examined a total of 10 vehicles in an effort to ascertain whether Madeleine had been moved by car in the hours after she was abducted.
Detectives working on the case sealed off three floors of an underground car park in nearby Portimao in order to conduct a thorough forensic examination.
Tests were also carried out on vehicles belonging to Muratís German girlfriend Michaela Walczuch and her husband, Portuguese swimming pool maintenance man Luis Antonio. The McCann's hired Renault Scenic was also examined.
Police also carried out tests on vehicles owned by Russian computer expert Sergey Malinka, 22, and several of Muratís relatives.
The police insist that the McCannís, from Rothley, Leicestershire have never been suspects in the case.
The results of the forensic tests have been described as the final piece in the jigsaw, which will finally allow detectives to move in and arrest the suspects.
However due to the fragile condition of the samples, it could take several more days before the results are finally available.
One source at the laboratory said: "There is a significant amount of material from a number of locations and it will take some time to work through it all."
Despite the developments Kate and Gerry have refused to give up hope that their daughter will be found alive.
Yesterday they once again visited the tiny Catholic Church in Praia da Luz to offer prayers for the safe return of their daughter.
Gerry and Kate, who was clutching Madeleineís toy cuddle cat, spent around 45 minutes at the church where they have visited regularly since their daughterís abduction.
A family friend said: "Their faith is extremely important to them and they get enormous comfort by spending a little time praying in church."
Click to view image: '83922-maddy_dna.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|