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Girl in photo not Madeleine, reports say

  • Story Highlights
  • Girl photographed in Morocco not missing Madeleine McCann, says UK paper
  • Villagers say girl is the five-year-old daughter of a local olive farmer
  • Reporter says girl "has a resemblance to Madeleine" but obviously isn't her
  • Photo was taken by Spanish couple vacationing in Morocco in late August
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A young girl photographed in Morocco is not the missing British toddler Madeleine McCann, according to British media reports on Wednesday.

This picture, taken Wednesday in Zinat, Morocco, shows Bushra Binhisa, carried by her mother, Hafida.

The Evening Standard newspaper featured a new photo of the child, said to be the daughter of a local olive farmer, under the headline "It's not her."

Reporters descended on the remote hillside village of Zinat in the north of the country after the image of the young girl being carried on a Moroccan woman's back was flashed around the world as a possible sighting of four-year-old Madeleine.

But it quickly emerged that the girl in the photograph (pdf) was believed by villagers to be 5-year-old Bushra Binhisa, the daughter of an olive farmer.

Evening Standard journalist Rashid Razaq, who flew to Morocco from London, said he had seen the youngster on Wednesday, the UK's Press Association said.

He said: "She has got a resemblance to Madeleine but when you see her properly, it is obvious it isn't her."

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: "Clearly, if these reports that the girl in the photograph isn't Madeleine are true, it is disappointing news.

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"This is why Gerry and Kate refused to comment on individual sightings and why I was advising caution overnight.

"Clearly, the search for Madeleine will continue and I would appeal for everyone to refocus their efforts to achieve her safe return."

The digital picture was taken by a Spanish couple who vacationed in Morocco in late August, Mitchell told CNN. The picture, taken out of a moving car, seems to show a Moroccan woman carrying a child on her back while walking along the side of a road.

"Along this route we started to take photos of everything we saw -- mosques, villages, everything. We saw this group of people we took some photos but as soon as we took them, we saw a blonde, blonde girl who caught our eye," said Clara Torres.

The McCanns, both doctors, were vacationing in Portugal's Algarve region with their children -- including then-three-year-old Madeleine -- in May.

The couple said they were having dinner at a restaurant while their children slept at their hotel May 3, and discovered Madeleine was gone when they checked in on them.

The McCanns were named "arguidos," or suspects, earlier this month by Portuguese authorities, but have vehemently denied any involvement in their daughter's disappearance.


News of the missing wide-eyed girl has grabbed headlines across the globe and moved celebrities such as soccer star David Beckham to make public pleas for the girl's safe return.

Mitchell said Wednesday the McCanns are being kept apprised of the situation regarding the photo. Earlier, the McCanns visited Morocco during the search for their daughter, and authorities in Rabat, Morocco, assured them of their cooperation. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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