The police investigation into the disappearance of a British toddler was being handled professionally, Portuguese officials said Tuesday, though they could not guarantee the girl was still alive.
"They are doing their job properly and according to the law," local mayor Julio Barroso told Sky News. "This is our usual way of doing things — it's very different from the British police."
Little information about the probe into Madeleine McCann's disappearance has been made public, prompting criticism that police are not doing enough to find the 3-year-old since she vanished Thursday night from her parent's vacation apartment.
"I want to assure the family and all the people involved that the professionals are doing the best they can," Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa said. "We are searching for the child until the moment she appears. We can say nothing more because we are not magicians."
Sousa added that he could not guarantee that the youngster was still alive.
Detectives cannot reveal much about the case because of the restrictions of Portuguese law, they said.
Former police detective and leading child protection consultant Mark Williams-Thomas told Sky News the police need to make a direct appeal for the public's help with whatever information they have.
It is claimed that the police responded too slowly to news of Maddie's disappearance, wasting the crucial first few hours and failing to alert border police until the morning after she went missing.
"I'm not on the spot but I know that in the early stages things could have been quicker," Brian Kennedy, Maddie's great-uncle, told Sky News. "But it's a small place and hopefully things are moving faster now."
Kerry Grist, the mother of British toddler Ben Needham, who vanished while on the Greek island of Kos in 1991, told Sky News she believes the McCanns must try to keep control of the police investigation.
"Stay in control of everything and make the police update them every second of the investigation," Grist said. "Just stay focused and be really brave."
Meanwhile, it's claimed that Portuguese detectives are investigating British pedophiles with links to the Portuguese province of Algarve.
Authorities in the U.K. have supplied detectives in the region with information on child abusers who have moved or travel there, Portuguese media reported.
Madeleine's mother, Kate, made a powerful direct appeal Monday to anyone holding her daughter to let her go.
"Madeleine is a beautiful, bright, funny and caring little girl," she said, with her husband, Gerry, by her side. "She is so special. Please, please, do not hurt her."
The toddler disappeared on Thursday night while she was left with her brother and sister in a holiday apartment.
The search area has been extended around Praia da Luz and along the coast and is now about 25 miles wide.
Sky News contributed to this report.