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Fear's over Kate McCann's fragile health

Original Source: MIRROR: 28 SEPTEMBER 2007
EXCLUSIVE  By Tracey Kandohla 28/09/2007
Tormented Kate McCann was at a new low last night as fears grew for her fragile health.

For nearly five months she has borne herself with astonishing fortitude through the disappearance of daughter Madeleine and the agony of coming under suspicion.

She and husband Gerry have had their hopes cruelly raised and dashed before.

But the latest false sighting of Madeleine, four, in Morocco has left Kate more devastated than ever before, and looking underweight and strained.

Madeleine's aunt Philomena said: "How would this affect you? Sometimes they crash as it gets to them."

Kate's mother Susan Healy, 61, added: "Like any mum, I worry for her. She's lost a few pounds but that's only to be expected because of the constant levels of stress.

"People are concerned for Kate because she looks so fragile. But she's coping from day to day and remaining strong for Madeleine."

On Sunday, Kate - also mum of two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie - wept openly at church near her home in Rothley, Leics.

A friend said: "We know that Kate is fragile. But she's struggling on."

Despite previous disappointments Kate and Gerry, both 39, could not help but hope after a tourist in Morocco took a photo of a lookalike Madeleine.

They have always believed their daughter, who vanished from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on May 3, might have been taken to North Africa.

However on Wednesday it emerged that the child was Bouchra Benaissa, three-year-old daughter of a Berber farmer.

Employment adviser Susan, of Liverpool, said: "We were so disappointed.

"Kate in particular had been hoping so much. But she'll keep on hoping.

"She's having her ups and downs and, of course, I'm worried about her and Gerry. It's the most unimaginable thing for them to be going through.

"Kate is eating, we've made sure of that. But she's probably not getting as much benefit from her meals as she used to.

"Though the girl wasn't Madeleine, it's reassuring people are contacting police.

"Kate and Gerry are very grateful that the focus is getting back to finding their daughter and that people everywhere are continuing to support them."

Philomena revealed: "Gerry had it early from a police source that the girl in Morocco wasn't Madeleine.

"The child pictured was smaller and chubbier than Madeleine. Kate and Gerry steeled themselves to this and until police tell them Madeleine is dead they'll carry on."

A source added: "Although Kate and Gerry are always told not to get their hopes up whenever reports of sightings come in, there'll always be a part of them which thinks 'Maybe, just maybe, this could be the one'.

"Part of Kate's mind is still in Portugal where she last saw Madeleine."

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said that the false sighting would only reinforce their determination to find their missing daughter. He said: "Clearly it was a big disappointment.

"But what has come out of this is it has focussed attention back on the search.

"Kate and Gerry are pleased this tourist went to the authorities with the photo. They'd encourage anyone who thinks they see Madeleine to do the same."

More than 2,000 cuddly toys donated to the McCanns by wellwishers were packaged yesterday for two orphanages in Zhodina, Belarus.

Each toy has been individually tied with green and yellow ribbons and carries a small picture of Madeleine.


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