POLICE searching for Madeleine McCann last night revealed there had been 14 reported sightings of her in Malta.
Officers said the first was almost a MONTH ago, and just one of the sightings has so far been ruled out.
Their probe began when a Maltese woman contacted them on May 27, convinced she had seen four-year-old Maddie with a man in the capital Valletta.
A magistrate was called in to oversee a second inquiry on June 17 when two British tourists reported seeing a child resembling the kidnapped youngster.
They described seeing her board a bus with a middle-aged woman, and told how they chatted with the girl before she and the woman left the bus in St Paul’s Bay.
Four days later, police received another EIGHT reported sightings of the girl with an adult.
Officers immediately launched searches after the witnesses described seeing her in Valletta, Sliema, Mdina and Marsascala.
And yesterday another two witnesses came forward.
One man described seeing a child like Maddie at Baharic-Caghaq, and a woman said she may have seen the girl at Marsascala a fortnight ago.
Maltese police are liaising with officers in Portugal and Britain.
Supt Mario Spiteri said: “We understand how important this investigation is — it is a high priority. We are doing all we can, but cannot talk about details.” Officers yesterday quizzed tourists on the beach at St Paul’s and showed photos in the hope of finding other witnesses. Detectives were combing other towns, while The Sun put up posters all over the island and handed out T-shirts.
Police were also on alert in Republic Street in Valletta, where witnesses reported seeing Maddie a week ago. PC Kenneth Pace said: “We really hope she is found and we are doing everything we can to find her if she is here.” The Sun told yesterday how British tourist Ray Roberts, 49, had reported seeing a girl like Maddie with an Arabic-looking man in Sliema. When the child fell the man shouted in a foreign accent, “Get up, little girl.”
If a kidnapper is on Malta with Madeleine, leaving is likely to prove extremely difficult.
All 1,800 cops on the island have been given a photo of Maddie, while the airport and harbours are on high alert. Police are also checking CCTV footage for any evidence of Maddie arriving on Malta.
Her family are desperately hoping the sightings will be the breakthrough they need. Patrick Ferry, cousin of Maddie’s dad Gerry, said: “We have to hope there is something in these sightings. We just have to keep being positive.”
Swiss authorities launched a huge search at Geneva airport yesterday after two separate sightings of a child resembling Maddie.
The search was eventually called off after two hours, and pilots and arrival airports were alerted to check all passengers.
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