The parents of a British boy who today vanished from the same Portuguese resort that Madeleine McCann disappeared from could face child abandonment charges. The youngster, aged seven, disappeared for several hours before being found early this afternoon in Praia da Luz.

His mum and dad lost sight of the youngster around 11.40am as they walked down a hill known locally as Ponta Negra to the east of the holiday resort where Madeleine, then three, disappeared from her parents’ holiday apartment in May 2007. Police sources said the distraught parents spent nearly an hour looking for him before calling emergency services at 12.30pm. The alarm sparked a major police response, with specialist criminal investigation officers mobilised, an all-ports alert and police roadblocks.

The search, set to be stepped up with the arrival of a specialist team from Lisbon, was called off around 1pm after the youngster was taken into a police station in Lagos near Praia da Luz. Police spokesman Sandra Panazete, who works for Portugal’s PSP force said this afternoon: “Around 1pm a 65-year-old British man appeared at the PSP station in Lagos with a seven year-old British boy who he found in Praia da Luz. Apparently the boy approached him asking for help as the man was speaking in English. The boy was okay. He didn’t look injured, just fine and relaxed.”