The Associated Press
Friday, June 22, 2007; 7:56 PM
LISBON, Portugal -- The parents of a missing 4-year-old British girl on Friday released 50 helium-filled balloons over a beach in southern Portugal near where their daughter disappeared 50 days ago.
The yellow and green balloons drifted away as observers applauded, Portuguese television showed. The event, one of 300 reportedly scheduled to take place around the world, was part of the McCann family's effort to draw attention to child abuse.
Madeleine McCann vanished on May 3 from a hotel in Praia da Luz, a resort town in Portugal's Algarve region. Her parents had left her and her 2-year-old twin siblings alone in their hotel room while they dined at a nearby restaurant.
Gerry McCann, Madeleine's father, said balloons were to be launched the same day from almost 300 places to focus attention on missing or abducted children.
In Madrid, children released more than 300 balloons. Organizers said 50 represented the days since Madeleine disappeared, and 154 symbolized the days since a 7-year-old Spanish boy, Yeremi Vargas, disappeared from Spain's Canary Islands. The rest were to symbolize missing children around the world.
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