Eight children have been murdered in a stabbing massacre in the far north Queensland town of Cairns, in what Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described as “an unspeakable crime”.
The children, all from the same family, were aged between 18 months and 15 years old. Their 34-year-old mother is in hospital with severe stab wounds.
The bodies were discovered inside the family home by the 20-year-old brother of the slain children, according to relatives at the scene.
The injured mother’s cousin, Lisa Thaiday, told reporters that the children were all siblings and the woman was their mother.
Thaiday said an older brother, aged 20, arrived at the property and found his siblings dead. She said it was a big family and most were from the Torres Strait.
Police confirmed the incident around 2pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT), saying Cairns detectives had established a crime scene and begun an investigation into the death of eight children in the suburb of Manoora, 10 minutes from the centre of Cairns.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the news as “heartbreaking” and said it was an “unspeakable crime”.
Police were called to the Murray Street residence around 11.20am, Queensland time (12.20am AEDT), following reports of a woman with serious injuries.
“As it stands at the moment there’s no need for the public to be concerned,” Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said.
“The crime scene will be continued now until probably the next day or two.
“These events are extremely distressing to everyone.”
During an examination of the residence police located the bodies of the children.
“At this stage I believe there’s eight… but that number might go up or down,” Asnicar said.
The mother is receiving treatment for injuries to upper torso and neck at Cairns Hospital and is in a stable condition. She is currently assisting police with their investigations.
A Mobile Police Facility has been established and officers from the Cairns Criminal Investigation Branch, Child Protection and Investigation Unit, Scenes of Crime and Scientific section are conducting an investigation and examination of the scene.
Here is a map of the area.
The road is currently closed and no further information is available at this stage.
Here are photos from the scene of the crime.
— Sharnie Kim (@sharniekim) December 19, 2014
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au.
The Prime Minister said: “These are trying days for our country.
“Tonight, there will be tears and prayers across our country for these children.
“My thoughts are with the Queensland Police and all who have to respond to this terrible situation.”
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said: “the whole Cairns community and the people of Queensland will feel the effects of this tragedy, particularly at a time of year when families come together.
“I ask that all Queenslanders reach out to those who may need support in coming days and do not hesitate to seek professional assistance if needed.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.