McCanns offer support as abduction fears rise
KATE MCCANN has offered her support to the parents of a five-year-old girl who has vanished in Huelva.
The 39-year-old contacted Juan José Cortes and Irene Suarez, whose daughter Mari Luz went missing from Huelva on January 13 after going out to buy a packet of crisps, to say the couple were in her thoughts.
Huelva is less than two hours’ drive from Praia da Luz in the Algarve where the McCanns were staying when four-year-old Madeleine disappeared from their holiday apartment last May.
Mrs McCann, and her husband Gerry, also 39, travelled to Huelva in August to launch a poster campaign and raise the profile of their missing daughter.
They sent a message to Mari Luz’s parents via the private detective agency Metodo 3, who have spoken to the couple to see if there are any possible links between the two cases.
Spanish police said they were keeping an open mind and have sent dark-haired Mari Luz’s picture to Portuguese police amid fears she had been snatched by a child trafficking gang and taken across the border between the two countries.
Scores of Spanish volunteers joined more than 150 firefighters in Huelva to search for the little girl, while helicopters and sniffer dogs were brought in to help with the search.
Mr Cortes, a 34-year-old former professional footballer turned builder, said: “Kate McCann has been in touch to send her condolences.
“She knows what we are going through and I understand them now too.”
A family friend added: “Knowing they have the support of Gerry and Kate has been comforting.
“They have been touched by the fact someone who is going through her own turmoil can find the strength to think of them in their moment of need.”
The pledge of support came after Gerry McCann wrote on his blog: “Hearing of the probable abduction of Mari Luz Cortes has brought many awful emotions flooding back.
“We hope and pray that Mari Luz is quickly found and returned safely to her family.”
Mari Luz’s distraught grandmother, whose shares the same name, pleaded for the little girl to be returned safely: “Please give me back my grand-daughter. She is the only one I have.”
Like the McCanns, Mr Cortes said they would set up an appeal fund to raise money to help find Mari Luz: “All I want is to make sure everything possible is being done to look for my daughter and all the money that is needed in the search is available.”