PRAIA da LUZ, Portugal -- Police received an "overwhelming response" from the public after Monday night's appeal for information relating to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the British girl who vanished six years ago while on a family holiday to Portugal.
The appeal was launched at 9 p.m. Monday on the British TV show Crimewatch and has received over 300 calls and over 170 emails, police say.
"We are extremely pleased with the response to the Crimewatch appeal," Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said.
"It went better than expected," the editor of Crimewatch Joe Mather said when he spoke to the BBC's Radio 4 Today program.
Police showed sketches of several "persons of interest," including one who is described as being between 20-40 years old and of average height and build, was allegedly seen with a young blonde-haired child, around 3-4 years old and possibly wearing pajamas, walking near the McCann's apartment down towards the beach about 10 p.m. on the night she disappeared.
Mather is encouraged by the public's response to this particular sighting. "They received several names for the key 10 p.m. sighting, the sighting of the man carrying a child towards the beach. Several different names, but also several callers mentioning the same name for that man."
Redwood said however that while this could be the man that took Madeleine, there could also be an innocent explanation.
The appeal, which will also be broadcast in the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland, is part of a new push by British police to crack the case of the girl's disappearance on May 3, 2007 from the resort town of Praia da Luz.
Having taken "everything back to the beginning," Redwood says the police are now working with an altered timeline and version of events surrounding Madeleine's disappearance. "Our focus in terms of understanding what happened on the night of May 3 has now given us a shift of emphasis."
The police are looking closely at a window of time around 10 p.m. when Kate McCann says she left dinner at a tapas restaurant less than 100 yards from the apartment to check on Madeleine and her brother and sister only to find her missing.
In previous investigations, the police had been focusing on an earlier timeframe so now police are calling on people that may have seen anything suspicious around the McCann's residence at this later time.
Officials have suggested there are some signs that point to a "pre-planned abduction," with the authorities looking into whether the case could be linked to burglaries and fake charity collections in the area.
Police have released sketches of several "persons of interest" but one, who is described as being between 20-40 years old and of average height and build, was allegedly seen with a young blonde-haired child, around 3-4 years old and possibly wearing pajamas, walking near the McCann's apartment down towards the beach.
As well as releasing e-fit images, the 25-minute Crimewatch appeal also consisted of a reconstruction of events leading up to Madeleine's disappearance and interviews with Kate and Gerry McCann. On the program, Kate revealed the moment that, "panic kicked in," after she arrived back at the apartment to find an open window and Madeleine, gone.
Redwood will now travel to the Netherlands and Germany as there were a number of tourists from these countries staying in Praia da Luz when Madeleine went missing. The program was not broadcast on Portuguese television.