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Madeleine McCann's nanny speaks for the first time about the night she vanished.

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A nanny who looked after Madeleine McCann has spoken for the first time about the night the British girl vanished during a family holiday nearly 10 years ago.

The unnamed woman, who worked at the Portuguese resort from which the three-year-old disappeared, told The Mirror that she is still haunted by the anguish of parents Kate and Gerry McCann.

Recalling the events of May 3, 2007, the former nanny said it was another parent at the Praia da Luz Ocean Club apartments who told her a child was missing.

When she discovered that child was Madeleine, she said she rushed to the family’s ground-floor apartment to a scene of chaos and desperation. Gerry was anxiously searching for his little girl; friends were doing their best to comfort Kate.

“She was pacing up and down. The worst possible thing had just happened to her,” the woman told The Mirror.

“She was crying, but almost in a catatonic state, and Gerry was very distressed. That’s the one thing I really remember from him, looking under the cars. I can’t forget that.”

Madeleine McCann, missing since 2007.

At around 8:30pm that evening, the couple had left Madeleine and her twin siblings to sleep while they dined with friends at a restaurant roughly 55 metres from the apartment.

Kate had returning a number of times to check on the children; but when she did so at 10pm Madeleine's bed was empty. She has not been seen since.

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The former nanny said she and other staff joined the search for the little girl, who she described as "slightly shy, very sweet".

“We were told to start looking in bins in case her body was in there. It was at that point we realised this was serious," she said.

Gerry and Kate McCann release an updated image of missing daughter Madeleine. (Image: Getty.)

The woman claims it took Portuguese police 90 minutes to arrive at the scene, and alleges that poor handling of the case could have jeopardised chances of finding the child.

“I think a lot of things should’ve happened differently. ­Unfortunately the effects were catastrophic,” she said.

The lack of a credible suspect meant that, in the months and years that followed, fingers were pointed at Kate and Gerry McCann. But having seen their reactions and knowing the timing of events, the former nanny argues "there's no way at all" they are responsible for the child's disappearance.

The £11.1million investigation, codename Operation Grange, was due to end recently, but British investigators were last month given additional funding to pursue an unidentified lead, in one "last throw of the dice".

According to Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha, that lead relates to a local man who was seen near the Ocean Club apartments.

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