A young Italian girl who disappeared four years ago — and was dubbed Italy's Madeleine McCann — has apparently been found alive and well.

Greek police think they have found Denise Pipitone, who was taken from Sicily, on the island of Kos after a tip-off from an Italian tourist who stayed there last month.

The Roma gipsy who accompanied the girl to the island has been taken into custody and charged with abducting a minor.

Greek police spokesman Panayiotis Stathis said: "(The suspect) was unable to certify that the girl was her daughter.

"Greek police asked the Italian branch of Interpol for the parents of the missing girl to send a blood sample, to establish whether they are this child's parents."

The girl was said to be aged between eight and nine and matches the description of Denise — who would now be almost eight.

The process to identify the girl via her blood sample would take at least 10 days, Stathis said.

Piera Maggio, Denise's mother, has been shown pictures of the girl found in Greece.

She said: "I have seen so many photographs of children over the years but in this case the shape of the eyes is exactly that of my Denise.

"'I have asked for a DNA test and one is being carried out. I don't want to get my hopes up, my feet will remain firmly on the ground until I see the results of the test."

The Italian tourist notified the authorities when she became suspicious after the young girl approached her and offered her a bracelet.

The tourist was surprised when the girl spoke fluent Italian and yet the woman, 30, who claimed to be her mother could not. The woman later admitted she wasn't the mother.

If the girl is found to be Denise, the case will give fresh hope to Kate and Gerry McCann, who have vowed to continue looking for missing Madeleine, who vanished from their holiday apartment in Portugal more than a year ago.

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