Madeleine McCann: British Police Ask For DNA of New Zealand Lookalike

British police have asked for a DNA sample from a girl in New Zealand said to bear a striking resemblance to the missing British girl.

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Hugo Correia / REUTERS

A billboard of Madeleine McCann is seen at Praia da Luz, April 5, 2009

British police have asked for a DNA sample from a girl in New Zealand said to bear a striking resemblance to the missing British girl Madeleine McCann.

The girl, who was spotted on New Year’s Eve in a store in the South Island city of Queenstown, had the same blemish on her eye — a coloboma of the iris, which occurs in only about 0.007% of the population — as Madeleine, reports national broadcaster TVNZ.

“She had the same eye defect as Madeleine. Only a very small percentage of the population have that and I was just staring at it the whole time to the point I forgot what they had purchased,” said the store owner who reported the sighting, reports the Daily Telegraph.

(MORE: Is Madeleine McCann Still Alive?)

But the Mirror reports that police in New Zealand insist that it’s a case of mistaken identity.

“Police will be sending a DNA profile to British police . . . to confirm the identity of a girl who has been mistaken for Madeleine by a member of the public,” said Detective Senior Sergeant Kallum Croudis, reports the Telegraph.

He said the girl has been mistaken for Madeleine more than once, as TVNZ reports.

(MORE: A Child is Rescued in Philadelphia. But Why Was Her Abduction So Easy?)

British police said that the alleged sighting is not a line of inquiry and it has asked for the sample to confirm that the girl is not Madeleine.

According to 3News, the results of the DNA test won’t be available for weeks.

Madeleine was nearly four years old when she disappeared from her family’s rented holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on 3 May 2007, while her parents had dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Since then there have been numerous “sightings” of Madeleine across the globe. As well as several more in New Zealand, there have been reported sightings in India, Morocco and Brazil.

MORE: Madeleine McCann, One Year Later