MADELEINE McCann’s parents are aware Portuguese police have launched a fresh search for their daughter’s remains but refuse to believe she is dead until her body is found, their former spokesman said.
Kate and Gerry are being "kept informed every step of the way" by British cops who are not directly involved in the latest hunt.
Detectives scoured three rural wells on the Algarve on Thursday after obtaining "fundamental evidence" that the youngster is dead.
The McCann’s from Rothley, Leics, remain "on tenterhooks" as they anxiously await updates.
Convicted German sex fiend Christian B, 43, remains the prime suspect in Maddie’s disappearance during a family holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.
The family's ex publicist Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry want answers more than anyone but while the Metropolitan Police are still treating Madeleine’s abduction as a missing people’s rather than a murder inquiry it gives them a glimmer of hope that she could still be alive.
"They continue to hope until there is incontrovertible evidence which proves she is dead. They are being kept informed every step of the way."
New searches were conducted in a network of water wells in Vila do Bispo, a 15-minute drive west of Luz.
A team of specialist rescue firefighters, including expert divers, joined officers to examine the huge underground holes.
Respected Portuguese state broadcaster RTP is saying officers, working with their German counterparts, discovered "fundamental evidence" to be able to prove suspect Christian B is responsible for Maddie’s kidnap and murder.
It has also linked Christian B to another missing persons' case in the Algarve resort of Silves.
Sky News is also reporting that the drifter and prolific criminal twice slipped through the net of Portuguese investigators, according to court documents and witness testimony.
Maddie’s parents have always believed their daughter was stolen by a lone paedophile or a child sex trafficking gang.
THE SEARCH CONTINUES
A family source said today: "Kate and Gerry will be the first to know if there is any significant development.
"The Met police are now working with Portuguese and German officers on this case but have not been involved in any direct activity in Portugal.
"Wells in the area have been searched in the past and they were expecting new searches to be made in light of recent news from German police.
"They are rather surprised that the waterways hadn’t been searched sooner. But this is a matter for Portuguese officers who are liaising with German authorities and Scotland Yard."
The pal added: "Kate and Gerry have still absolutely no idea what evidence police have to suggest Madeleine is dead.
"They are not being told. We feel desperately sorry for them as they’ve endured so much pain and angst for more than 13 years."
Former GP turned medical worker Kate and eminent heart doctor Gerry, both 52, remain "incredibly grateful" to the Yard for its continuing work on £12million taxpayer-funded Operation Grange over the past nine years.
Three-year-old Maddie vanished from a holiday apartment just nine days before her fourth birthday.
She had been left sleeping alone with her younger twin siblings while her parents were dining with pals in a nearby tapas restaurant. If alive, she would now be aged 17.
The family have recently been buoyed up by news of a Chinese boy being found alive 32 years after being abducted.
The friend said: "This is the news they are dreaming of receiving themselves one day."
Kate and Gerry wrote in a 13th anniversary post in May: "The investigation to find Madeleine remains open and continues, even though, in a way different to the ideal.
"We remain grateful for the ongoing efforts and commitment from all those involved in the search to find her and we hope and pray, as always, that our efforts will be fruitful."
A Met Police spokesperson said the force could not comment on the latest search for Maddie as it was being undertaken by Portuguese officers.
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