A nanny who looked after Madeleine McCann has broken her silence over what happened the night the youngster went missing a decade ago. The former child minder at the Praia de Luz holiday resort, where three-year-old Maddie was last seen, revealed the moment parents Kate and Gerry McCann realised their daughter was gone.

Speaking to the Mirror, the nanny, who has not been named, said she “can’t forget” the image of Mr McCann desperately searching under cars for the tot as she comforted his sobbing wife who cried: “They’ve taken her.” She said: “A parent came to me and said there was something going on, and said someone’s looking for a child, I didn’t instantly think it was Maddie. “A couple of minutes later I walked into Kate crying, friends comforting her, Gerry looking under cars, and it just blew up. I don’t even think she saw me. I just stood next to her and tried to comfort her.

“She was pacing up and down. The worst possible thing had just happened to her. “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.”

He added that staff were “told to start looking in bins for her (Maddie’s) body” and were order to go to bed at 5am while police continued to investigate after the disappearance in May 2007. The staff member also revealed how the Portuguese holiday destination was deemed so unsafe that nannies had been ordered to carry rape alarms and not go out alone. The Ocean Club resort was run by travel firm Mark Warner until 2015.

“We were told, ‘Here’s a rape whistle, don’t go anywhere by yourself, ever.’ “There’d been a girl attacked the year or so before in Praia da Luz. It didn’t sound like a family resort to me. “I just got the feeling the locals didn’t want us there,” she said. The nanny quashed speculation that Mr and Mrs McCann, who were initially quizzed by police, were involved in their daughter’s disappearance and claimed: “There was not a chance”.

She also slammed local authorities who she claimed took 90 minutes to arrive on the scene.

Describing Maddie, who was sleeping next to twin siblings Amelie and Sean when she vanished, the nanny told the Mirror: “We obviously give the same care to all the children, but she was a real cutie and a real sweetheart.

“If you asked her, ‘Can you just pass me that?’ She’d be like, ‘Sure.’ “She was easy for us, and you were happy to sit and help out this pretty little girl who’s really nice.” Last month the Home Office gave £85,000 to fund the hunt for the youngster, dubbed Operation Grange, so that the probe could be extended until September.