by Antonella Lazzeri
Detectives were last night desperately hunting a girl who was photographed in Sweden - after computer-matching showed she could be missing Madeleine McCann.
The girl, who was pictured at a car show, bears a strong resemblance to Maddie, who would now be six.
Her jawline is identical and her eyes are the same colour as Maddie's.
After the snap appeared on a website, Swedish police were inundated with calls from the public saying how much it looked like Maddie.
They also received a spate of calls from visitors who believed they had seen Maddie at the car show.
Face-mapping technology used by British police identified the girl as a possible match, and Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry have now asked for an urgent investigation.
Maddie - snatched from her family's holiday villa on Portugal's Algarve coast in May 2007 - has a distinctive mark in her right eye.
But the photo of the girl in Sweden is not clear enough to show if she has the same characteristic.
The girl was with a man and a woman at the car show, held in Sweden's capital Stockholm in August.
The man was Swedish but the girl spoke perfect English.
The woman remained silent, and the snapper said both adults refused to be photographed.
Kate and Gerry, both 41, of Rothley, Leics, have seen the photo and believe it should be investigated.
A source close to the couple said: "They feel it bears a resemblance to what Maddie would look like now.
"They can't be certain but feel it can't be dismissed. It should be looked into.
"The girl does look quite like Madeleine, especially around her jaw.
"It is enough of a similarity for the investigators to look into it further."
The couple's official spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry and their investigators are aware of the picture and are liaising with the relevant authorities.
"The investigation team are looking into it."
Swedish police are now liaising with British cops and the private detectives hunting Maddie.
The photographer failed to note the girl's name, and Swedish police have so far been unable to find her.
The photo is not the first time the search for Maddie has been linked to Sweden.
The Sun told in August how a Victoria Beckham lookalike asked a man at a marina in Barcelona, Spain: "Are you here to deliver my new daughter?"
One of the yachts linked to the woman came from Sweden.
The luxury cruiser was one of six recorded as having left the Algarve port of Portimao the morning after Maddie vanished.
All the other boats have been traced and eliminated from the investigation.
But all efforts to find the Swedish yacht have failed.
An investigator revealed: "It has apparently vanished without trace.
"The captain told port authorities he was going to the Algarve port of Albufeira, but the boat never arrived and has not been found since."
Detectives hunting the Posh Spice lookalike, who spoke with an Australian accent, believe it is possible that Maddie was whisked away from Portugal by boat.
Gerry McCann this week spoke at an international legal conference in Madrid, where he told delegates: "We will never give up hope, we will never give up searching for Madeleine."
source: The Sun, 10.10.2009
Note: This blog respects children's privacy, therefore we do not publish the photo at issue.