Investigators searching for Madeleine McCann prepared to dig near resort in Portugal

Portuguese police searching for missing toddler Madeleine McCann today cordoned off scrubland just 300 yards away from where she vanished in preparaton for an intensive search of the ground.

Police will be inspecting the ground - marked off with yellow and white police tape - looking for terrain that may have been disturbed. If they find suspicious ground, police will then bring in sniffer dogs, ground penetrating radar and possibly excavation equipment, ABC News reported.

The area to be combed is the size of three football fields and is where a suspect was seen walking away with a little girl in his arms the night McCann disappeared seven years ago.

The area had been searched in the days following her disappearance in May 2007.

The case has been one of the world's most enduring mysteries. The British girl, who was 3, vanished from her bed at a Portuguese resort while her parents were dining with friends at a nearby restaurant. The parents were the initial suspects, but were eventually cleared and Portuguese police closed the case without any arrests in 2008.

But last year British police made a televised appeal for tips on the case, and information poured in. Investigators are now focused on a series of child assaults in the area before Madeline McCann disappeared.