Portuguese dam search in Madeleine McCann case uncovers 'relevant clue'

A "relevant clue" has reportedly been found during the three-day search of a remote Portuguese dam in the case of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. 

A coalition of officers from Portugal, Germany and the United Kingdom conducted the three-day search on the remote Arade dam in the southern region of the Algarve - about 50km inland from a beach resort where McCann disappeared in 2007. 

Portuguese police said in a statement on Friday (NZ time) the three-day operation requested by Germany was now over and the collected material would be handed over to German authorities after "safeguarding the interests of the investigation still ongoing in Portugal".

Police would not say whether any useful clues were found during the search that involved sniffer dogs, use of a tractor-based tree-cutter and investigators raking the cleared ground in a few small areas.

Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha has reported a "relevant clue" was found.

It is also being reported several items were removed from the dam, including a bra strap, pieces of fabric and plastic items, but it's unclear if they're related to McCann's case, according to the Mirror.

Police were also reportedly searching for a gun and camcorder that allegedly belonged to German sex offender Christian Brueckner - who was last year named an official suspect in the McCann disappearance. 

The convicted child abuser and drug dealer is behind bars in Germany for raping a 72-year-old woman in the same part of the Algarve.

Brueckner has denied any involvement in the disappearance and no body has been found.

McCann went missing back in 2007, when she was just three years old, from the Praia da Luz apartment she and her family were holidaying in.

McCann's parents, Kate and Gerry, had gone to a restaurant 100 metres away for dinner, while the three kids remained at the apartment. When Kate got back at about 10pm, Madeleine was missing from her cot.

The parents promptly called local Police as a mass search of the apartment complex kicked off, but she was never found.