Portuguese newspapers yesterday criticised the way police initially handled the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The three-year-old has not been seen since Thursday night when she vanished from her parents' apartment at the Algarve resort of Praia Da Luz.

Although her parents, British doctors Gerry and Kate McCann, and their family are happier with the police investigation than they were initially, newspapers in Portugal now suggest that there had been poor co-ordination between police and the Foreigners and Frontiers Service, which is responsible for controlling the country's borders.

Daily newspaper Diario de Noticias said the frontiers service had been alerted of Madeleine's disappearance only 12 hours after police first knew about the case. The paper said that in cases involving foreigners, the service should be alerted immediately.

Another paper, Correio de Manha, said the main border crossing from the Portuguese Algarve to Spain had no special controls in place until Saturday afternoon. The police said on Saturday they believed Madeleine was still in Portugal and that all airports, in Portugal and Spain, had been alerted.

Up to 150 Portuguese police officials, together with hundreds of villagers and holidaymakers, are searching for the blonde-haired girl and British police officers have travelled to the Algarve to help.

The McCanns had put Madeleine to bed with younger twins Amelie and Sean and were dining 50 metres away with friends when she vanished from the apartment.

A police spokesman said on Saturday that there was evidence the girl had been kidnapped and appealed for her return.

Yesterday, her parents attended Mass and afterwards a tearful Kate McCann thanked the local community for their support. She had been presented with flowers at a Mothering Sunday service and locals had queued to hug and kiss the couple in support.

Police have searched campsites and caravan parks. They said they had a "suspect" but gave no further details.