The parents of missing child Madeleine McCann have said they believe the lack of any findings from recent searches prove their daughter could still be alive.

Kate and Gerry McCann said they were 'very pleased' with the forensic searches carried out over the last 10 days in Praia da Luz, near the Ocean view holiday resorts.

British police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine seven years ago have conducted an exhaustive search of an area of scrubland the size of nine football pitches, in an effort to find any clues relating to her abduction.

Scotland Yard has confirmed that no evidence relating to Madeleine McCann has been identified after the extensive search in Portugal.

In a statement, the couple said: "We are further encouraged that despite the intensive searches, no trace of Madeleine has been found and this reinforces our belief that she could still be alive.

"As parents of a missing child, we have always wanted all reasonable lines of inquiry to be followed and it is gratifying to know that a substantial amount of work will take place over the coming months with the close co-operation of the British and Portuguese authorities.

"We would like to thank all those involved for their efforts and the members of the public who have come forward with information."

The recent digs are the first stage in the major investigation with further searches in Portugal expected to start "shortly."

It has been reported that police are to begin questioning key suspects in the case.

Meanwhile, Kate and Gerry McCann will be returning to Portugal on Monday (16 June) to deliver statements in the libel trial of former Portuguese police chief Goncalo Amaral, who they are suing over claims in his book The Truth Of The Lie.

In his book, Amaral claims that the McCanns faked their daughter's abduction to cover up her death in their holiday apartment.

Spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "I can confirm that Kate and Gerry are planning to attend court in Lisbon on Monday when they will give their personal statements, having successfully appealed to do so."

Madeleine was three years old when she was abducted from the holiday apartments in May 2007.