Millions of people around the world expressed their support for the family of abducted Madeleine McCann today by visiting their official website as serious questions remained about her disappearance.
The number of visitors to the newly-launched Find Madeleine Internet site hit over 60 million tonight.
After a week of dramatic developments in the investigation into the four-year-old’s disappearance from the Algarve village of Praia da Luz 15 days ago, Portuguese police kept a low profile today.
But there were reports that a girl matching Madeleine’s description was seen in Morocco last week, while inconsistencies emerged in a key witness’s accounts of his relationship with the only suspect in the case.
Marie Olli, a Norwegian woman who lives in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol and once lived in Leicestershire, said she was “very sure” she saw the missing girl in Marrakech on May 9.
While stopped in a petrol station she saw a “sad” young blonde girl who initially appeared to be standing on her own.
Then an “anonymous looking” man in his late 30s came over and the girl asked him: “Can I see mummy soon?”
Mrs Olli contacted British and Portuguese police after returning home to Spain and hearing about Madeleine’s disappearance.
She said she was told somebody would get back to her, but so far nobody has.
Mrs Olli said: “I am very sure it was Madeleine.
“I think it’s very strange that the police haven’t contacted me again. I think they should be doing everything they can.”
Meanwhile, discrepancies emerged in statements made by Russian computer expert Sergey Malinka, 22, who was interviewed as a witness by police on Wednesday night.
Mr Malinka designed a website for Anglo-Portuguese man Robert Murat, 33, who was this week named as the first “arguido” or suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.
Mr Murat’s mobile phone records show he called Mr Malinka at 11.40pm on the night Madeleine went missing, according to the Evening Standard newspaper in London.
But the Russian IT specialist told the paper he had not spoken to Mr Murat for 12 months – and he told another reporter he had not seen him for three months.
Mr Malinka said today he could not comment on the reports until the police investigation is over because of strict restrictions under Portuguese law.
But he stressed his relationship with Mr Murat was “strictly business” and added that if he could give his side of the story, “it would prove me innocent, that everything is correct”.
Mr Malinka refused to comment on specific allegations about his connections with Mr Murat printed in Portuguese newspapers.
But he said: “I just feel I have been misunderstood and the information about me has come out of nowhere.
“It’s been false, untrue, it’s really not helping me with my name and my career.”
Mr Murat’s home in Praia da Luz, just yards from the spot where Madeleine was abducted, has been the centre of intense police activity.
The Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha reported today that police have so far found no traces of Madeleine anywhere in Mr Murat’s villa.
Mr Murat has told police he was at home with his mother on the night Madeleine went missing and strenuously denies any involvement in her abduction.
Although police say they do not have enough evidence to charge or even formally arrest Mr Murat, he is the first person they have formally classed as a suspect.
Mr Murat denied today there was anything sinister in his hiring a car two days before detectives took him in for questioning.
Staff at the car rental firm in Praia da Luz grew suspicious about his behaviour when he came in on Saturday and reported him to police.
Documents show he hired a Hyundai Getz from Auto Rent III from Saturday to Tuesday.
Tuck Price, a Murat family friend, said today Mr Murat only needed the hire car because his mother Jenny was using their one vehicle to transport tables for a stall appealing for information about Madeleine.
Mr Price added: “Robert’s still feeling locked up, he literally can’t move.
“It’s still a very frustrating case and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, which is even more frustrating.”
The international campaign to locate Madeleine gathered pace today, with millions of people visiting the official website, www.findmadeleine.com
Family friends brought out to Portugal a huge number of letters sent to the McCanns in the UK from well-wishers, including some in Hong Kong and New Zealand.
A two-minute film about the missing girl will be played during the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium tomorrow.
The DVD, which has the soundtrack of the Simple Minds hit Don’t You Forget About Me, was earlier screened at the Uefa Cup final between Sevilla and Espanyol in Glasgow on Wednesday.
A family spokeswoman said Madeleine’s parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, were taking strength from the “enormous support” they have received.
The McCann family priest spoke today of how the couple’s faith in God has sustained them through two weeks of crisis.
Father Paul Seddon, 45, who married Gerry and Kate McCann eight years ago and baptised Madeleine four years ago, has flown to Portugal to support the family.
Speaking publicly for the first time, he said: “I first heard Madeleine was missing in the early hours of Friday morning two weeks ago.
“For everyone involved it was a terrifying experience. Those first few hours were filled only with darkness and fear.
“None of us will ever forget how we felt at that moment. If that feeling of helplessness and devastation had continued it would have generated a sort of paralysis.
“But Gerry and Kate would not allow it – they knew it would have simply destroyed them as people and reduced the chance of finding Madeleine.”
This week opportunists registered new money-making websites – advertising everything from mobile phone ringtones to health insurance – with very similar spellings to the official campaign site.
Madeleine’s uncle, John McCann, branded the people behind the websites “parasites” and accused them of trying to cash in on the family’s heartache.